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Copyright, 1917 


A. B. Makover 





**We will return to Zion as we went forth," said 
Mordecai Noah in 1824, three quarters of a 
century before the first Zionist Congress at Basle, 
"bringing back the faith we carried away with us. 
The temple under Solomon which we built as 
Jews we must again erect as the chosen people. 
For two thousand years we have been pursued 
and persecuted, and we are yet here; assemblages 
of men have formed communities, built cities, 
established governments, and yet tae are here. 
Rome conquered Greece and she was no longer 
Greece. Rome in turn became conquered, and 
there are but few traces now of the once mistress 
of the world ; yet we are here, like the fabled 
' Phoenix, ever springing from its ashes, or, more 
beautifully typical, like the bush of Moses, which 
ever burns, yet never consumes." 

There are few more appealing figures in the ' 
history of Zionism than he who uttered these 
words. He was the first American Zionist, a 
Zionist before the movement had received a 


name,* a lawyer, diplomat, philanthropist, a leader 
in Israel and a loyal and true American. Born at 
the close of the Revolutionary War, Mordecai 
Noah lived through the period of American ex- 
pansion and died at the time when the preliminary 
quarrels over the question of slavery were going 
on. It is interesting to note that on this latter 
point his sympathies were decidedly with the 
South. The span of his life covered a critical 
period of sixty-six years in the development of the 
new republic and Noah was one who contributed 
bountifully of his energy and of his talents to the 
welfare of the United States. 

Mordecai Manuel Noah was born in the city of 
Philadelphia, then the capital of the United States, 
on July 19th, 1785, several years after the war of 
Independence. He died in New York City, March 
22, 1851. The Noah family was of Portuguese 
Jewish stock, and many of the descendants were 
in the fore in important matters of business and 
state. It has been asserted that his mother was 
descended from a disinguished family of Maran- 
nos, which left Lisbon for London in order to 
escape the Inquisition, and later emigrated to 
America.** "He was the eldest son," Simon Wolf 
tells us, "of Manuel Mordecai Noah, of Charles- 

*The term Zionism in contradistinction to "Chovevei 
Zion" — "Lovers of Zion" — was first used by Matthias 
Acher (Birnbaum) in his paper, "Selbst-Emancipation," 
read in 1886. 

**Dr. M. Kayserling: "£m Judenstaat-Griinder*', Allge- 
meine Zeitung des Judentums, 1898, p. 101. 


ton, South Carolina, a patriot of the revolution, 
and Zipporah Phillips Noah, the daughter of 
Robert Phillips of Philadelphia, one of the most 
prominent patriots of the Revolutionary period." 
His father served in General Washington's army, 
and a tradition in the Noah family persists, to the 
effect that our first President was a guest at the 
wedding of Mordecai's parents. 

Noah was left an orphan at an early age, and 
was apprenticed to a carver and guilder to learn 
his handicraft. He managed, however, to attend 
school for a few hours each day, and, being of a 
studious disposition, succeeded in educating him- 
self in all manner of learning. Among his class- 
mates were Stephen Decatur and his brother John, 
of whom the former subsequently attained emi- 
nent distinction for his services to his country in 
the American Navy. Years after Noah and 
Decatur were boys at school, at the time when 
the United States were conducting a war against 
the North African pirates, the two men met, Noah 
as the American Consul at Tunis, Algiers, and 
Stephen Decatur as Commodore of the fleet in 
those waters. While the squadron lay off Cape 
Carthage, the Consul of the United States was 
received by the heroic commander with the usual 
honors accorded by American representatives to 
each other when they meet in strange lands. 

When a boy, Noah was a member of a Thespian 
company; he performed the duties of cutting the| 
plays, substituting new passages, casting partSy/^ 
and writing couplets at the exits. The little^ 


company did not last long, for their audiences 
were admitted without cost and the expenses be- 
came too heavy for the youthful actors to survive. 
The Thespian Society included, besides young 
Noah, the celebrated actor, Edwin Forrest, who 
was eleven years old at the time, and Joseph C. 
Neale. From boyhood on, Noah was a constant 
attendant at the Chestnut Street Theatre. He 
seldom missed a night, and, after his varied ex- 
periences, he wrote a melodrama, under the title 
of The Fortress of Sorrento ; as, however, he did 
not possess enough money to pay for printing, or 
sufficient influence to have it acted, he thrust the 
manuscript into his pocket, went to New York 
where he called at David Longworth's Dramatic 
Repository one day and struck a bargain with the 
owner by giving him the play in return for a copy 
of each play that Longworth had published. 

During his years as guilder's apprentice, Noah 
was in the habit of spending most of his evenings 
at the Franklin Library in Philadelphia, where his 
obvious assiduity and attractive manly appearance 
and demeanor drew the attention of Robert 
Morris, the financier, who personally obtained for 
him a clerkship in the Auditor's Office at the 
United States Treasury. Noah held this position 
until the national capital was moved to Wash- 
ington, in 1800, and the boy, then only 15 years 
of age, went to Harrisburg to represent a news- 
paper at the Pennsylvania Legislature. Here he 
gained his first experience in the field of journal- 
ism, in which he later became a potent leader. 


Four or five years after Noah had settled himself 
in Harrisburg, he went to Charleston, S. C, where 
he studied law, at the same time editing the 
"Charleston City Gazette". The relations be- 
tween this country and England were, at that 
time, very much strained, and, finally, were com- 
pletely broken off in the war of 1812. Noah ad- 
vocated war in the columns of his paper, writing 
many fiery articles over the pen-name of *'Muley 
Molack," and in so doing incurred the enmity of 
the pacifists. He was challenged to several duels 
and in one encounter he killed his antagonist. 

From Noah's contributions to various period- 
icals, and the character and variety of his writ- 
ings, it is evident that he was one of the shining 
literary lights of the period. He was a friend of 
George P. Morris and other unremembered liter- 
ati of this country. His editorials and short 
articles were so stimulating and enjoyable that 
they became very popular. Major Noah (he was 
an officer of the New York militia, attaining the 
rank of major), was recognized as the best ''para- 
grapher" of his day. 

Noah's literary activity won for him an im- 
portant place in American letters. Many of his 
writings were of a political nature, yet he still 
found time to write a half dozen or more plays. 
He wrote the following: "The Fortress of 
Sorrento", "The Grecian Captive", "The Grand 
Canal", "Marion, or The Hero of Lake George", 
"O Yes, or The New Constitution", "She Would 
be a Soldier", "The Siege of Tripoli", "Paul and 


Alexis", "Yesef Caramatti", "all of which were 
produced with great success," says Dunlap. It 
should not be forgotten that most of his plays 
were written while he was editing a daily paper 
and midst the fierce contests of political strife. 

In a letter to Mr. Wm. Dunlap, author of "A 
History of the American Theatre", Noah throws 
light on his activities as a playwright : 

"As the struggle for liberty in Greece was the 
prevailing excitement, I finished the melodrama 
of "The Grecian Captive", which was brought out 
with all the advantages of good scenery and 
music. As "a good house" was of more conse- 
quence to the actor than fame to the author, it 
was resolved that the hero of the piece should 
make his appearance on an elephant, and the 
heroine on a camel, which were procured from a 
neighboring menagerie, and the "toute ensemble" 
was sufficiently imposing, only it happened that 
the huge elephant, in shaking his skin, so rocked 
the castle on his back, that the Grecian general 
nearly lost his balance, and was in imminent 
danger of coming down from his "high estate," to 
the infinite merriment of the audience. On this 
occasion, to use another significant phrase, a 
"gag" was hit upon of a new character altogether. 
The play was printed and each auditor was pre- 
sented with a copy gratis as he entered the house. 
Figure for yourself a thousand people in a theatre, 
each with a book of the play in hand — imagine 
the turning over of a thousand leaves simul- 
taneously, the buzz and fluttering it produced, 


and you will readily believe that the actors en- 
tirely forgot their parts, and even the equanimity 
of the elephant and camel were essentially dis- 

"My last appearance as a dramatic author was 
in another national piece, "The Siege of Tripoli", 
which the managers persuaded me to bring out 
for my own benefit, being my first attempt to 
derive a profit from dramatic efforts. The piece 
was elegantly got up — the house crowded with 
beauty and fashion — everything went ofif in the 
happiest manner; when, a short time after the 
audience had retired, the Park Theatre was dis- 
covered to be on fire, and in a short time was a 
heap of ruins. This conflagration burnt out all 
my dramatic fire and energy, since which I have 
been, as you well know, peacably employed." It 
is said that Noah gave his entire portion of the 
proceeds of this performance to the actors, who 
had lost all their personal belongings in the fire. 
As a writer of essays, Noah was gifted with a 
lively style which abounded in a common sense, 
calculated to appeal to that vast misunderstood 
class, too frequently described as "average readers." 
His writings are, moreover, tempered with a dig- 
nified kindliness and thoughtfulness, indicative of 
an amiable disposition and good breeding. He 
is so convincingly friendly and considerate that 
one's confidence is instantly gained. In a collec- 
tion of his newspaper essays, published in 1845, 
which Noah entitled "Gleanings from a Gathered 
Harvest", these characteristics are markedly dis- 


played. The essays deal with large and petty vices 
of that period (common, indeed, in all latter-day 
periods of human history), and might well be called 
"Lessons in Prudence, Economy and Industry". 
The writer includes one of these in the appendix 
of this account for the delight of the reader.* 

In 1811, Mordecai Manuel Noah received the 
appointment of American Consul for Riga, Russia, 
but at that period this post held forth no induce- 
ments because of the commercial obstacles created 
through the war on the continent, which was then 
being waged with great vigor. It was the year 
in which Alexander I. had broken his alliance 
with Napoleon, who from that time was a con- 
stant and powerful foe. Russia was almost in- 
cessantly at war, the national debt and the burden 
of taxation had been augmented, and though 
Alexander was unmistakably liberal, a consulship 
in a chaotic country did not appeal to Noah. 
President Madison, after two years of delibera- 
tion, during which time he had had ample oppor- 
tunity for forming a perfect knowledge of the 
character, claims and qualifications of Major 
Noah, appointed him, in 1813, Consul for the 
Kingdom and City of Tunis, which was a salaried 
office and a trust of importance. War had been 
declared against the United States by the Alge- 
. fines. Mr. Lear, the American Consul-General, 
was rudely dismissed, and a vessel from Salem, 
Mass., was captured and her crew made prisoners. 

*See Appendix A. 


Noah was instructed to negotiate for the re- 
lease of these captives and it was determined that 
he should have entire charge of affairs in the 
Mediterranean. The appointment was accepted. 

Thus began his services for the Government. 
His task was a difficult one, requiring the exer- 
cise of shrewd diplomacy and subjecting his per- 
son to the risks of Oriental hospitality. The re- 
lations of the United States with the Barbary 
States were peculiarly uncertain, and the policies 
of those regencies were but imperfectly under- 
stood in this country. Foreigners needed strong 
protection, for they were not very welcome to 

Noah had another motive for directing his steps 
towards that quarter of the globe. He desired to 
obtain authentic information relative to the situa- 
tion, character, resources, and numerical force of 
the Jews in Barbary, many of whom were immi- 
grants from Judaea and Egypt. The only Jewish 
traveler in those countries, whose works were ex- 
tant, was the Spaniard, Benjamin of Tudela in 
Spain, who traveled in the 13th century. Noah 
visited England, Erance, Spain, and the Barbary, 
faithfully recording his observations as he pro- 
ceeded. At length, after many delays, incon- 
veniences and perils, the Major arrived in Tunis. 
He found the city filthy in the extreme and by no 
means a comfortable residence. There were about 
one hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants, one 
fifth of whom were Jews. A clique of Jewish 
citizens, he found, controlled the commerce of the 


country and were very intimate with the rulers, 
with whom they were constantly allied for the 
carrying out of lucrative deals and shady intri- 
gues. These matters, together with the mode of 
life of the Jews in the various countries he had 
visited, Noah recounts with historical accuracy 
in his "Travels in England, France, Spain, and the 
Barbary States", published in New York and 
London in 1819. From this work, I take the 
liberty of quoting the following rather lengthy 
account of the Jews in Barbary : 

'Tn glancing at the various inhabitants, which 
chance, or the persecutions of an unfeeling world, 
have driven to this quarter of the globe, I should 
not omit noticing the Jews. Indeed, on this sub- 
ject, more will be expected from me than from 
casual observers. Professing the same religion, 
and representing a Christian nation in an im- 
portant station, and in an interesting part of the 
world, it will be supposed that opportunity and 
inclination must have combined to afford the most 
correct information on the subject ; while, on the 
other hand, an equality of rights, a reasonable 
participation of honors and office, together with 
the advantages of society and education, unite to 
banish those prejudices, inseparable from dark 
minds, and feelings wounded and irritated. If 
on this subject I should not say much, what I 
shall say will be the result of close observation. 
On the numerical force, wealth, and disposition 
for emancipation among these descendants of the 
Patriarchs, I have a small volume, the publication 


of which may be dangerous to them, while the 
north of Africa is in the hands of the Barbarians, 
and I am not without hopes that the time will 
come, when some civilized power, capable and 
determined, will wrest that fine portion of the 
world from the hands of the assassins, and re- 
lieve an unfortunate race, who only require mild- 
ness and tolerance to make it useful and bene- 

"The Israelites banished from Spain and Portu- 
gal by the bigotry of their monarchs, and for 
which these kingdoms have long since languished 
and decayed, sought refuge in the Barbary States, 
in which there were originally but 200,000. They 
found in Fez, Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli, an im- 
mense number of their brethren, originally from 
Judaea and Egypt, many of whom had descended 
from the Canaanites that fled from Joshua and 
settled in Mauretania Tingitania. Such was the fate 
and the fortune of these proscribed and unhappy 
people. They wandered with no other king but 
their God, no other law than his precepts and 
ordinances ; they bent under persecutions, yet, 
wherever the intolerance of the times compelled 
them to go, they found their brethren, with ad- 
mirable constancy, ready to share with them their 
fortunes, and, if necessary, to sacrifice their lives 
for each other. In the Barbary States, they found 
a refuge from the Inquisition, from torture and 
from the "auto da fe", they were compelled to 
abandon their splendid dwellings and the luxury 
of wealth, they met from Mussulmans insult and 


oppression, yet they were tolerated, and they 
sought consolation in that religion which teaches 
them to have but one God, to obey his command- 
ments and rely on his protection. They were 
taught, by the doctrines of their law, to suffer 
patiently the penance of a loss of national liberty; 
for a disregard in early periods to the principles 
of that law, they were dispersed according to the 
word of God, and in conformity to his promise, 
they patiently bend to the intolerance of the 
times, and await the certain period of their de- 
liverance, satisfied, from the well-known and ad- 
mitted fact, that they have been preserved pure 
and unalloyed, amidst the wreck of worlds and 
the ruins of nature, and that this miraculous pre- 
servation must eventuate in their restoration to 
their ancient rights. . . From the most correct data 
which I could obtain, I have reason to believe 
that the number of Jews in the Barbary States 
exceeds 700,000, of which nearly 100,000 are 
capable of bearing arms. Much has been said of 
the severe and cruel treatment of the Jews by the 
Mussulmans — this I did not observe; that they are 
treated with indignity and insult there is no doubt; 
they are compelled to wear a black dress, they are 
not permitted to pass a Mosque with their shoes 
on, they pay a heavy capitation tax, and minor 
insults growing out of a general system and cus- 
toms long observed. These were predicated on 
policy : the Moors found an immense and increas- 
ing people professing a different faith — active, 
enterprising, and rich — fearful, then, of an in- 


crease of a confederacy, composed of materials 
capable of revolutionizing and governing the 
country, they united to oppress and insult them, 
and yet tolerated them. An erroneous impression 
prevails, that the religion of the Jews is an object 
of hatred to Mussulmans and the cause of this 
oppression. This is not the case, because the 
Mohammedan faith does not materially differ 
from the Jewish, and their hatred towards 
Christians is yet more fierce and irreconcilable ; 
but the Jews have no protectors, they are con- 
sidered by Mussulmans as abandoned by all na- 
tions, because they will not renounce their ancient 
faith, and yet, with all this apparent oppression, 
the Jews are the leading men, they are in Barbary 
the principal mechanics, they are at the head of 

. the custom-house, they farm the revenues; the ex- 
portation of various articles and the monopoly of 
various merchandise are secured to them by pur- 

- chase, they control the mint and regulate the 
coinage of money, they keep the Bey's jewels and 
valuable articles, and are his treasurers, secre- 
taries, and interpreters; the little known of arts, 

• science and medicine, is confined to the Jews ; 
there are many who are possessed of immense 
wealth, many who are poor. How then is it that 
these people, so important and so necessary, 
should be so oppressed! The fact is, this oppres- 
sion is, in a great measure, imaginary. A Turk 
strikes a Jew, who dares not return the blow, but 
he complains to the Bey and has justice done him. 
If a Jew commits crime, if the punishment affects 


his life, these people, so national, always purchase 
his pardon ; the disgrace of one afifects the whole 
community; they are ever in the presence of the 
Bey, every Minister has two or three Jewish 
agents, and when they unite to attain an object, 
it cannot be prevented. These people, then, what- 
ever may be said of their oppression, possess a 
very controlling influence, their friendship is 
worthy of being preserved by public functionaries, 
and their opposition is to be dreaded. The in- 
trigue which the Jewish merchants set on foot, to 
obtain from me the prize goods at their own 
valuation, I could not, with all my efforts, effectu- 
ally destroy, as I discovered that the Bey, his 
brother, two sons, and several of his officers, were 
interested in the result. Their skill in business, 
and the advantage which they take of Christians 
and Moors, have been the subject of severe and 
just animadversion; they will, if not narrowly 
watched, avail themselves of opportunities to over- 
reach and defraud; for this, the world has 
showered upon them opprobrium and insult. But 
has the world ever held out proper inducements 
for the Jews to be honest, except in countries 
where they enjoy equal privileges? If they are 
just, they are not credited for it ; if they possess 
merit, they are not encouraged and rewarded ; if 
they do a good action, approbation does not fol- 
low; proscribed and insulted, their virtues denied, 
public opinion attaching to them the odium due 
to bad men of all persuasions, no friend, no solace 
in misfortune, haunted, despised, and shunned, it 


is still asked of them to be honest, when they re- 
ceive no reward or gratitude for their honesty, 
when no man will give them credit for one good 
action! — What is the incitement to virtue? The 
approbation of conscience and the world ; the Jew 
in Barbary has no friend but his wealth, that pur- 
chases protection and toleration, and he is ever 
zealous and active in the accumulation of it, and if 
he is not fastidious in the mode of his acquire- 
ment, he is not singular — exclusive honesty is the 
property of no sect. 

"As a proof that the Jew in Tunis can exercise 
a very important influence, I shall relate one fact 
which touches us nearly : Upon some frivolous 
occasion an American Consul beat a Jew, who was 
attached to the Custom-house ; the Jew com- 
plained to the Hamouda Pacha, who ordered that 
the Consul should openly beg pardon of said Jew 
in the Custom-house, and as a proof of humility, 
should kiss him — which was done. This was an 
act of justice, on the part of the Bey, though it 
was not flattering to our nation, nor to the officer, 
who could persecute the persecuted, proscribe the 
proscribed. The kingdom of Tunis contains 
about sixty thousand Jews, and whatever differ- 
ence of opinion may exist as to their population 
in the city, I do not believe that it contains more 
than twenty thousand. These are divided into 
Italian and Barbary Jews, who are distinguished 
by their dress. The Barbary Jews wear a blue 
frock without a collar or sleeves, loose linen 
sleeves being substituted, with wide drawers of 


the same article, no stockings, excepting in winter, 
and black slippers, a small black skull cap on their 
head, which is shaved, and around which a blue 
silk handkerchief is bound; they are permitted to 
wear no colors. The Italian Jews dress like 
Christian residents, with the addition of a haick, 
or bournouse, thrown over their heads. They 
inhabit a distinct quarter of the town, and are 
governed by a person named by the Bey, who 
hears and decides all disputes, and orders, if neces- 
sary, corporal punishment to be inflicted; so that 
it may be said they enjoy the privilege of being 
governed by men of their own persuasion ; they 
support their poor, the rich being compelled to 
pay double price for articles of luxury, one half 
of which goes to the poor ; their houses are low 
and mean, which they are ever whitewashing and 
cleansing. They have no system of education, 
their children being taught the Hebrew language, 
and the ceremonies of religion, which are the 
same here, though more rigidly observed, as they 
are in every other part of the world where Jews 
reside. Polygamy, which is allowed by the 
Mohammedan law, and not forbidden by the 
Mosaic institutions, prevails in Barbary, but is 
very rare. I heard of but one Jew in Tunis who 
had two wives, his name was Alhaock, a very 
rich and active old man. As it will readily be 
imagined in a country which is not civilized, the 
Jewish women, like the Turkish, are considered 
as an inferior race. They are fat and awkward, 
their dress consisting of a petticoat of silk of 


two colors, principally yellow and purple, around 
which is thrown, in several folds, a thin gauze 
wrapper; the head is covered with a colored silk 
handkerchief; those who are single have their 
hair platted in two or three rows, to the end of 
which they suspend colored ribands ; they wear 
no stockings but slippers, with silver cinctures 
around the ankles; and the soles of their feet, their 
hands, nails and eye-brows, tinged and colored of 
a dark brown, from the juice of a herb called 
Henna. When they walk they unloosen from 
their neck a piece of black crape, with which they 
cover their mouth and chin, leaving the upper 
part of their face bare. As to their living and 
domestic concerns, I can say nothing, never hav- 
ing visited any of them. 

"On the birth-night of General Washington, a 
ball was given at the American Consulate; the 
Jewish brokers called to solicit the favour of permis- 
sion to bring their women, as they call them, to 
see the company, which I granted; and one of the 
rooms was nearly filled with the Jewish beauty, 
and beau monde of Tunis. They were all dressed 
magnificently, covered with jewels, gold brocades, 
tissue, lama and gauze, arranged without any 
taste, and crowded together without fancy ; their 
feet bare, with embroidered slippers, and gold and 
silver bracelets around their ankles. Their com- 
plexions were fair, their eyes and teeth were good, 
but their figures were corpulent and unwieldy, 
which is considered a sign of beauty. The ladies 
of Tunis who could speak Arabic, conversed with 


the Jewesses very courteously, and they appeared 
modest and well behaved. 

"The only opportunity which the females have 
of seeing each other, for visiting is unknown in a 
population so extensive, is at the burial ground; 
this is outside of the walls, surrounded by no en- 
closure, and open to animals of all kinds ; the 
tombs are built of mortar and brick, they are flat, 
and not more than six inches in elevation from 
the ground : at the head of each tomb is a small 
square piece of slate bedded in, on which is en- 
graved the name of the deceased in Hebrew 

"Every Friday afternoon the Hebrew women as- 
semble with a small earthen jar, containing slack 
lime and a brush, with which they clean and 
whitewash the tombs of their family and friends. 
It was in this abode of death that I accustomed 
myself to study the character of these people. The 
wife or mother arrived at the place, would deposit 
her little jar and brush on the ground, and then 
seek among the inscriptions for the name of one 
who was still dear to her; having discovered it, 
she touched the inscription with her hand, which 
she carried to her lips and kissed; then, seating 
herself on the tomb, she wept bitterly, consoling 
herself in affliction by talking with the dead, and 
recounting her domestic affairs, her happiness or 
afflictions, and with a melancholy ignorance, 
soliciting the kind interference and affectionate 
protection of her dead kindred : having expended 
some time in the luxury of grief, she would clean 


the tomb, and join her companions to learn "the 
passing tidings of the times". These instances of 
a feeling and benevolent heart, and of a pious 
reverence, I frequently have witnessed : It is in 
the crucible of adversity that the Jew, in weep- 
ing over his own distresses, has taught himself to 
weep over the distresses of others. It was here 
that I saw the daughters of Israel, no longer on 
Zion or in Sharon, no longer triumphant, free and 
beloved, exhibit proofs of a heart which should 
be prized above all things, which is more estim- 
able than riches or precious ointment. But who 
will seek the virtues of the Jews? Who credits 
them for their charity, for their domestic fidelity, 
for their national faith, and mutual protection? — 
none. Their vices, which are like the vices of 
other men, except that treason and murder are 
unknown to them, have been the theme of re- 
proach, of prejudice, and punishment." ( 
Noah was a man of character and courage. He 
found his fellow consuls in Tunis to be a group 
of men of the best intentions but sadly lacking in 
the ability to contend with the cunning of the 
Turk. The representatives of foreign countries 
were forever matching their wits against the 
shrewd Tunisians, but to little avail. Noah de- 
termined that the only way in which a foreign rep- 
resentative could receive justice in Tunis was 
by compelling respect. Respect in that barbaric 
land meant physical fear, and Noah lost no time 
in demonstrating that he was a man of his word 
and prepared to defend his rights by force. They 


could not mince words with him ; Noah became 
the leader of the consuls. The flag of the United 
States over the American Consulate was respected 
as was the flag of no other nation, and the con- 
sulate became a haven for persecuted and dis- 
tressed foreigners. Before Noah left the United 
States for his post, he had been apprised of the 
fact that the Bey of Algiers looked upon American 
citizens as floating speculators or traveling pigeons 
whom he might pluck with impunity. He deter- 
mined that such a state of things should not pre- 
vail and that the wrongs which Americans had 
suffered should not be repeated. An opportunity 
to carry out this decision soon presented itself in 
the shape of a foreign resident in Tunis. 

A respected Italian merchant, by the name of 
Curadi, came one day into the American Consulate 
and informed Noah, that bills of exchange which 
he (Curadi) had drawn for twenty thousand 
piasters were returned protested, and that the 
holders were about to seize upon him and all his 
property, amounting to double that sum, to sacri- 
fice his merchandise and ruin his prospects for- 
ever; that his Consul, Mr. Nyssen, the Dutch 
Agent, being so completely in the power of the 
Bey, could not protect him; in this extremity he 
had ventured to implore the benevolent protection 
of the United States, to enable him to sell his 
property with credit to himself, and pay his debts 
honorably. Noah informed the Italian that it was 
not customary to take the subjects of another 
power under American protection, but if he en- 


tered the consulate and claimed the protection of 
the flag, he should have it. Mr. Curadi then de- 
clared that he would not leave the house, as he 
considered it a sanctuary afforded to the unfortu- 
nate, and respected by the Tunisian authorities. 
Curadi had been traced to the Consulate and this 
information had been delivered to the Bey. Pa- 
tiently they awaited the approaching storm. 

The next morning a Janizary appeared before 
Consul Noah with the compliments of the Bey, at 
the same time requesting Noah to give up the 
Christian merchant "who was a debtor, endeavor- 
ing to defraud his creditors". Noah desired the 
Bey's envoy to convey his respects to his Highness, 
and inform him that he was well aware that no 
person was ever given up who had taken sanc- 
tuary in the American Consulate. The following 
day the Janizary returned with the same message, 
to which the same answer was given. These visits 
continued for several days with no better effect 
and each day the message was augmented by an 
additional insult. 

Noah, during this time, had occasion to send 
his servant, Abdallah, an honest old Persian, to 
the palace for a permit to land a barrel of wine. 
In a short time the messenger returned in great 
trepidation. "Oh, my lord," said he, "such a 
piece of business, such an unfortunate affair;" he 
looked very much alarmed and spoke half French, 
partly Arabic and Persian. It was with difficulty 
that Noah learned what had happened. When 
Abdallah was crossing the patio at the palace, 


it appeared, the Bey had perceived him and ad- 
dressed him thus : "Abdallah, I have sent for 
several days past to the Consul, with orders to 
give up that Christian ; I had a good opinion of 
the Consul, and did think him a good man, but he 
knows he has no right to protect a debtor (Noah 
knew to the contrary), and finding him indifferent 
to my orders, you may now tell him, that to- 
morrow I will send twenty Mamelukes into his 
house and cut the Christian to pieces !" 

Curadi heard the message, and trembled like an 
aspen leaf; Noah lost all patience at this insult. 
"The creditors of Mr. Curadi," Noah explains in 
his "Travels", "could have settled honorably with 
him at my house. I was security for his person, 
but according to custom, they determined to seize 
him and all his property, sell it for what they 
pleased, and if they could bring him to debt, to 
throw him in prison for the balance. They had 
bribed the Bey to get him from my house, and his 
Highness, flattering himself that I was ignorant 
of my rights, ventured to experiment by threats. 
I determined to resist them, we had arms and 
ammunition, and I resolved to shut all the gates 
and doors, hoist the flag, and beat ofif the Mame- 
lukes if they should decide upon an attack. Curadi, 
whose 'head's assurance was but frail', protested 
against resistance, and solicited me to accompany 
him to the Bey where he would state the nature 
of his concerns. We did this the next morning. 
I entered the hall of justice where the Bey was 
seated surrounded by his ministers. After the 


customary salutation, he asked very calmly, what 
my business was. • "Your Excellency is aware," 
said I, "that any person that takes refuge in the 
house of a Consul is protected; this Christian en- 
tered my house as a sanctuary, and you have en- 
deavored to destroy my rights by attempting to 
take him from my protection; failing in that, you 
had recourse to threats, and yesterday you sent me 
a message by Abdallah, stating, that if I did not 
instantly give him up, you would send twenty 
Mamelukes and cut him to pieces. Now, sir, that 
the sanctuary of the American house may not be 
violated, I have, at his request, brought him to 
you, finding that you are about to deprive the 
American flag of a privilege accorded to all 
civilized powers, and which I assure you, we shall 
not relinquish without a struggle." "I never said 
such a thing," said the Bey, rising, "the slave is 
mad — did I say so, Abdallah?" asked he, with a 
furious look — the poor trembling dragoman replied ; 
"No sir, I was mistaken." "There, Consul," said 
the Bey, "how could you believe such a thing, such 
a preposterous thing? Abdallah is an old fool!" 
Noah pledged himself for Curadi's safe keeping. 
The creditors looked disappointed, and Hassan 
and Mustapha, the two sons of the Bey, who had 
been the cause of this trouble, darted a furious 
look at Noah, which he returned with perfect in- 
difference. "Having confirmed the rights and 
privileges due to the American Consulate," writes 
Noah, "and defeated the intrigues of these rogues, 
I returned to Tunis triumphant." 


This was the sort of diplomacy upon which 
foreigners were dependent, but Noah was the only 
consul who was fearless enough to use it, and it 
was in this way that the business of the United 
States in the Barbary States was successfully 
transacted. The irony of the future that awaited 
Noah is all the more poignant because of it. 

It is sufficient to record that Noah performed 
his duties faithfully and exceedingly well, the in- 
cident related being an example of the methods 
he employed to accomplish his work. The Consul 
had very little respect for the rulers of the Bar- 
bary States, — considering them barbarians and 
assassins. He hoped that a time would come 
when some determined civilized power would 
wrest that fine portion of the globe from their 
control. The government of the United States 
suffered nothing, however, from these personal 
prejudices. On the contrary, he strengthened its 
position and its power; he was mild, polite, 
generous, and conformed with the customs of the 
place, but, withal, energetic and firm on points 
connected with the integrity of his country. He 
never yielded a point of honor and such a course 
produced esteem and respect, and, above all, fear. 

Noah adjusted the affair involving the enslaving 
of the crew of the American vessel from Salem, 
referred to above, in a manner advantageous to 
the United States. He was confronted with a 
difficult problem, requiring the exercise of dili- 
gence and shrewdness, and he performed his mis- 
sion very creditably; but he was compelled to 


expend a sum exceeding the amount allowed him 
by his government. In return for this, he was 
made the victim of a very unreasonable act, an 
act which must forever remain a blot upon the 
record of James Madison's administration as 

Noah's political opponents at home made use 
of the incident of the freeing of the enslaved crew 
to effect his recall. After all he had sacrificed in 
the service, having more than once placed himself 
in danger of losing his head for his country, and 
after having accomplished so much where others 
had failed entirely, Noah was rudely dismissed to 
satisfy the clamoring of a clique of political vam- 
pires. He received the notice from the hand of 
his old schoolmate, Stephen Decatur, on board 
the "Guerriere", when the American squadron 
was in Mediterranean waters. Decatur had no 
knowledge of the nature of the letter he had been 
commissioned to deliver to Consul Noah. When 
Noah broke the seal of the despatch, he read, to 
his great surprise and mortification, the following: 

"Dept. of State, April 25, 1815. 

At the time of your appointment, as Consul at 
Tunis, it was not known that the RELIGION 
which you profess would form any obstacle to the 
exercise of your Consular functions. Recent infor- 
mation, however, on which entire reliance may be 
placed, proves that it would produce a very unfavor- 


the President has deemed it expedient to revoke 
your commission. On the receipt of this letter, 
therefore, you will consider yourself no longer in 
the public service. There are some circumstances, 
too, connected with your accounts, which require a 
more particular explanation, which, with that al- 
ready given, are not approved by the President. 

I am, very respectfully. Sir, 

Your obedient servant, 

(signed) James Monroe". 

"(to) Mordecai M. Noah, Esquire, etc." 

The receipt of this news shocked Noah inex- 
pressibly. He records his feelings vehemently 
in the account of his Travels. "To receive a 
letter, which at once stripped me of office, of 
rights, of honor, and credit, was sufficient to 
astonish and dismay a person of stronger nerves," 
Noah writes. "What was to be done? I had not a 
moment to determine. I cast my eye hastily on 
Commodore Decatur. I was satisfied at a glance, 
that he knew not the contents of the letter. It 
was necessary that he should not, for had he 
been made acquainted with the determination of the 
government, it would have been his duty, and he 
would have exercised it promptly, to have sent an 
officer ashore, taken possession of the seals and 
the archives of the Consulate, and I should have 
returned to Tunis, stripped of power, an outcast, 


degraded and disgraced, a heavy debt against me ; 
and from my Consulate, from the possession of 
power, respected and feared, I should in all proba- 
bility have gone into a dungeon, where I might 
have perished, neglected and unpitied ; and for 
what? for carrying into efifect the express orders of 
the government! I had no time to curse such per- 
fidy. I folded up the letter with apparent in- 
difference and put it in my pocket." 

When an opportunity presented itself Noah 
once more read the letter. "I paused to reflect on 
its contents," he continues. "I was at a loss to 
account for its strange and unprecedented tenor; 
my religion an object of hostility? I thought I 
was a citizen of the United States, protected by 
the constitution in my religious as well as my 
civil rights. My religion was known to the 
government at the time of my appointment, and 
it constituted one of the prominent causes why I 
was sent to Barbary. If then any "unfavorable" 
events had been created by my religion, they 
should have first ascertained, and not acting upon 
a supposition, upon imaginary consequences, have 
thus violated one of the most sacred and delicate 
rights of a citizen. Admitting, then, that my 
religion had produced an unfavorable effect, no 
official notice should have been taken of it ; I 
could have been recalled without placing on file 
a letter thus hostile to the spirit and character of 
our institutions. But my religion was not known 
in Barbary; from the moment of my landing I 
had been in full possession of my Consular func- 


tions, respected and feared by the government, 
and enjoying the esteem and good will of every 
resident. What injury could my religion create? 
I lived like the other Consuls. The flag of the 
United States was displayed on Sundays and 
Christian holidays ; the Catholic priest, who came 
to my house to sprinkle holy water and pray, was 
received with deference, and fully allowed to per- 
form his pious purpose ; the bare-footed Francis- 
can, who came to beg, received alms in the name 
of Jesus Christ; the Greek Bishop, who sent to 
me a decorated branch of palm on Palm Sunday, 
received, in return, a customary donation ; the 
poor Christian slaves, when they wanted a favor, 
came to me ; the Jews alone asked nothing from 
me. Why then am I persecuted for my religion? 

"Even admitting that my religion was an 
obstacle, and there is no doubt that it was not, 
are we prepared to yield up the admirable and 
just institutions of our country at the shrine of 
foreign bigotry and superstition? Are we pre- 
pared to disfranchise one of our own citizens, to 
gratify the intolerant views of the Bey of Tunis? 
Has it come to this — that the noble character of 
the most illustrious republic on earth, celebrated 
for its justice and the sacred character of its 
institutions, is to be sacrificed at the shrine of a 
Barbary pirate? Have we then fallen so low? 

"What would have been the consequence, had 
the Bey known and objected to my religion? He 
would have learned from me, in language too 
plain to be misunderstood, that whomever the 


United States commissions as their representa- 
tive, he must receive and respect, if his conduct be 
proper; on that subject I could not have permitted 
a word to be said. If such a principle is at- 
tempted to be established, it will lay the founda- 
tion for the most unhappy and dangerous dis- 
putes, foreign nations will dictate to us what re- 
ligion our officers at their courts should profess. 
With all the reflection, and the most painful 
anxiety, I could not account for this most extra- 
ordinary and novel procedure. Some base in- 
triguer, probably one who was ambitious of hold- 
ing this wretched office, had been at some pains 
to represent to the government, that my religion 
would produce injurious effects, and the Presi- 
dent (Madison), instead of closing the door on 
such interdicted subjects, had listened and con- 
curred ; and after having braved the perils of the 
ocean, residing in a barbarous country, without 
family or relatives, supporting the rights of the 
nation, and hazarding my life from poison or the 
stiletto, I find my own government, the only pro- 
tector I can have, sacrificing my credit, violating 
my rights, and insulting my feelings, and the 
religious feelings of a whole nation. O ! shame, 
shame ! ! The course which men of refined or 
delicate feelings should have pursued, had there 
been grounds for such a suspicion, was an obvious 
one. The President should have instructed the 
Secretary of State to have recalled me, and to 
have said, that the causes should be made known 
to me on my return ; such a letter as I received 


should never have been v^ritten, and, above all, 
should never have been put on file. But it is not 
true, that my religion either had, or would have, 
produced injurious effects. The Bey of Algiers 
had appointed Abraham Busnah, his minister at 
the court of France. Nathan Bacri is Algerine 
Consul at Marseilles, his brother holds the same 
of^ce at Leghorn. The Treasurer, Interpreter, 
and Commercial Agent of the Grand Seigneur at 
Constantinople, are Jews." 

Noah could not avoid reflecting on the status 
of the Jews in the Barbary states, and he could 
not fail to remember that the members of his race 
were more acceptable to the Mussulmans than 
were Christians. The government knew that 
Noah had kept within the purview of his orders, 
and that he would give a correct account of his 
disbursements. There was no adequate excuse 
for recall, either on religious grounds or that 
there were some circumstances connected with 
the Consul's accounts which required explanation. 
No officer was ever recalled for want of mere 
explanations in his accounts. 

Noah felt that he should not make his country 
look ridiculous in the eyes of Mussulmans by in- 
forming them that the President had made objec- 
tions to his religion. He stated to the Bey, there- 
fore, that he was about to visit Italy on business. 
The Bey appeared to be alarmed. "Why," said he, 
"there is no dispute, I hope. Consul. We are on 
good terms, are we not?" "Perfectly so," replied 
Noah. The Minister of Marine said to the Bey 


that the United States was about to tender him 
a higher post. The Bey shook Noah kindly and 
affectionately by the hand. They had always 
been on good terms personally, in spite of the 
several unpleasant occasions of friction between 
the two governments. *'The ministers all recip- 
rocated their good wishes and kind remem- 
brances," the Consul tells us, "and I left the palace 
regretted, I believe, by all. So much for the 
"unfavorable effects of my religion''. 

If Noah's departure was in anywise regretted at 
the palace, it is doubly certain that his fellow- 
consuls were reluctant to bid him farewell. 
Richard B. Jones, Consul of the United States at 
Tripoli, wrote that Noah had displayed a zeal and 
firmness unequalled in the defense of American 
rights, and that he "had reasoned wisely, and 
acted courageously". The following, a letter 
from Andrew C. Gierlieu, the Danish Consul- 
General, is further and convincing evidence on 
that point: "Need I tell you, my highly esteemed 
friend," we find his Danish Majesty's representa- 
tive asking, "how sincerely I am afflicted at your 
departure? My good Mr. Martino, too, will leave 
me soon, and then I shall be alone, quite alone, 
in this unhappy country. I have always esteemed 
your character; and it is, and will be a consola- 
tion to me, in this dreary place, where honor, 
virtue, and character are the most shocking vices a 
mortal can possess, to have gained such a friend, 
I hope for life, and wherever we shall live, as 
you, my most valued Mr. Noah. Be then as 


happy, my most sincerely esteemed and regretted 
friend, as you certainly deserve, and as I wish 
you from all my heart; and let us meet soon again 
in a less unhappy country, where virtue, honor, 
and manly open character, are no vices. We shall 
always meet as friends, and we will dare to say 
that we lived and acted like men of honor. Re- 
member me as I always shall remember you. Be 
a friend of my friends, as I shall always be of 
yours, if they resemble you. Be a friend of my 
country, as I always was of yours. 

Your sincerely devoted friend, 


"M. M. Noah, Esq., Consul of the U. S." 

It is a fact that Noah's friends in the United 
States remained true to him, that he was subse- 
quently vindicated before the people, and that 
his accounts were satisfactorily and properly ad- 
justed. But the obnoxious letter of dismissal 
could not be removed from the files of the State 
Department. "Delays, red tape, and other causes 
have prevented its removal even to this day," 
wrote one of his biographers some years ago. But 
the letter is no longer on the official files of the 
government, although this fact does not indicate 
necessarily, that it was withdrawn. It merely indi- 
cates that the letter cannot be found, or has been 
lost, but it may be properly said that it has 
mysteriously disappeared. 


To his activity as a Jewish liberator and 
nationahst Noah's importance in Jewish history 
is due. His vision was of Israel once more a 
nation, his dream was of a Jewish State in the 
Promised Land, leading in commerce and culture, 
and foremost in the arts and sciences. His 
hope was the hope of the Zionist to-day, his 
mistake in the selection of the means necessary to 
accomplish his heart's longings. He believed 
that the salvation of the Jewish people would 
come mainly through the efforts of their own 
neighbors, he pleaded for their help, begged them 
to succor Israel, not realizing that the working 
out of their national aspirations is left in their 
own hands, that they must drink waters from 
their own wells, grateful that those in whose 
midst they sojourn, for the present, at least, re- 
main indifferent. He called for aid from the 
citizens of a new land, properly engrossed in 
their own labors and in the shaping of their own 
destinies, appealing to them in the name of their 
pilgrim ancestors, forgetting in the heat of his 
eloquence the bigotry of the Pilgrim fathers and 
the scientific snobbishness of their sons. 

Noah was so intensely concerned with the ne- 
cessity of the renationalization of the scattered 
and persecuted Hebrews, that, like a drowning 
man, he clutched for whatever straw floated near. 
And like a drowning man, his sincerity cannot 
be questioned, for life, wealth, and the allurements 
of civic power were naught to him compared with 
the hopes he cherished for the future of Jewry. 


He advanced projects for the establishment of 
a Jewish State on three different occasions. The 
best known scheme was to open, in 1825, on 
Grand Island, near Buffalo, N. Y., a refuge for 
Jews. This attempt was eminently unsuccessful, 
causing a great sensation at the time, amusing to 
many, and markedly unfortunate, from the finan- 
cial point of view, for certain capitalists who 
aided him. A chronicler of Erie County, N. Y., in 
which Grand Island, the proposed asylum for the 
persecuted was to be located, tells us "that it was 
in the years 1824-1825 that occurred the extra- 
ordinary and amusing experience of Mordecai M. 
Noah and his co-partners in an attempt to found 
a great city on Grand Island, to be peopled mainly 
by the Jews, of which race Noah was a prominent 
representative. The whole affair resulted in an 
early and ludicrous failure." 

The most accurate, complete, and interesting 
account of the plan of Mordecai Manuel Noah to 
found a Jewish State, is given in a paper read by 
the Hon. Lewis F. Allen, in 1866, before the 
Buffalo Historical Society. Because of the 
historical value of Mr. Allen's report, it is re- 
printed here almost in its entirety: 

"In the year 1825 an eventful history was about 
to open on the Niagara frontier. Those members 
of our Society who then lived there, in the relation 
of their reminiscences of that period, have been 
prone to mark it as an eventful year in three thrill- 
ing incidents relating to the history of Buffalo, 
viz ; the visit of General Lafayette, the completion 


and opening of the Erie Canal, and the hanging 
of the three Thayers. There might have been 
added to it another memorable occurrence, not 
only to Buffalo, but to the Niagara frontier. Fol- 
lowing the survey of Grand Island into farm 
lots for settlement, of which the State authorities 
gave notice in the public newspapers, an idea 
occurred to the late Mordecai Manuel Noah, a 
distinguished Israelite of the City of New York, 
then editor of a prominent political journal called 
"The National Advocate", that Grand Island 
would make a suitable asylum for the Jews of all 
nations, whereon they could establish a great city 
and become emancipated from the oppression 
bearing so heavily upon them in foreign countries. 

"To understand this matter thoroughly, it is 
necessary to go somewhat into particulars. I 
knew Major Noah well. Physically, he was a 
man of large, muscular frame, rotund person, a 
benignant face and a most portly bearing. Al- 
though a native of the United States, the linea- 
ments of his race were impressed upon his feat- 
ures with unmistakable character, and if the blood 
of the elder Patriarchs or David or Solomon 
flowed not in his veins, then both chronology and 
genealogy must be at fault. 

"He was a Jew, thorough and accomplished. His 
manners were genial, his heart kind and his 
generous sympathies embraced all Israel, even to 
the end of the earth. He was learned, too, not 
only in the Jewish and civil law, but in the ways 
of the world at large, and particularly in the faith 


r and politics of "Saint Tammany" and "The 
\ ; Bucktail Party" of the State, of which his news- 
paper was the organ and chief expounder in the 
City of New York. He was a Counsellor at Law 
in our Courts; had been Consul General for the 
United States at the Kingdom of Tunis on the 
coast of Barbary — at the time he held it, a most 
responsible trust. 

"Although a visionary — as some would call 
him — and an enthusiast in his enterprises, he had 
won many friends among the Gentiles, who had 
adopted him into their political associations. He 
had warm attachments and few hates, and if the 
sharpness of his political attacks, created for the 
time, a personal rancor in the breasts of his 
opponents, its genial, frank, childlike ingenuous- 
ness healed it all at the first opportunity. He 
was a pundit in Hebrew law, traditions and 
customs. "To the manner born", he was loyal to 
his religion ; and no argument or sophistry could 
swerve him from his fidelity, or uproot his here- 
^( ditary faith. My friend and neighbor, Wm. A. 
Bird, Esq., has related to me the following 
anecdote : 

"Many years ago, when his mother, the late 
Mrs. Eunice Porter Bird Pawling, resided at Troy, 
New York, a society was formed, auxiliary to one 
organized in the City of New York, for the pur- 
pose of christianizing the Jews in all parts of the 
world. Mrs. Pawling, an energetic doer of good 
works, in the then infant city of her residence, 
was applied to for her co-operation in that novel 


benefaction. She had her own doubts, both of 
its utility and success, of which results have 
proved the correctness. But, determined to act 
understanding^, she wrote a letter to Major 
Noah, asking his views on so important a subject. 
He replied in a letter, elaborately setting forth the 
principles, the faith, and the policy of the Jewish 
people, their ancient, hereditary traditions, their 
venerable history, their hope of a coming Messiah, 
and concluded by expressing the probability that 
the modern Gentiles would sooner be converted 
to the Jewish faith, than that the Jews would be 
converted to theirs. 

"Major Noah — as I observed, a visionary, some- 
what, and an enthusiast altogether — made two 
grand mistakes in his plan. In the first place, he 
had no power or authority over his people, and, 
in the next, he was utterly mistaken in their 
aptitude for the new calling he proposed them to 
fulfill. But he went on. He induced his friend, 
the late Samuel Leggett, of New York, to make 
a purchase of twenty-five hundred and fifty-five 
acres, partly at the head of Grand Island, and 
partly at its center, opposite Tonawanda, at the 
entrance of the Erie Canal into the Niagara river. 
Either or both these localities were favorable for 
building a city. 

''These two tracts he thought sufficient for a 
settlement of his Jewish brethren; which, if suc- 
cessful, would result in all the lands of the island 
falling into their hands. Nor on a fairly, suppo- 
sitious ground — presuming the Jews, in business 


affairs, to be like the Gentiles — were his theories 
so much mistaken. The canal, opening a new 
avenue to the great western world, from Lake 
Erie to the 'ultima-thule' of civilization at that 
day, was about to be completed. The Lakes had 
no extensive commerce. Capital was unknown as 
a commercial power in Western New York. The 
Jews had untold wealth, ready to be converted 
into active and profitable investment. Tonawanda, 
in common with Black Rock and Buffalo, with a 
perfect and capacious natural harbor, was one of 
the western termini of the Erie Canal, and at 
the foot of the commerce of the western lakes. 
With sufficient steam power every sail craft and 
steamboat on the lakes could reach Grand Island 
and Tonawanda, discharge into, and take on, their 
cargoes from canal boats, and by their ample 
means thus command the western trade. Buffalo 
and Black Rock, although up to that time the 
chief recipients of the lake commerce, lacking 
moneyed capital, would not be able to compete 
with the energy and abundant resources of the 
proposed commercial cities to be established on 
Grand Island and Tonawanda, and they must 
yield to the rivalry of the Jews. Such was Major 
Noah's theory and such his plans. Mr. Leggett's 
co-operation, with abundant means for the land 
purchase, he had already secured. Through the 
columns of his own widely circulating "National 
Advocate," he promulgated his plan, and by the 
time the sale of the Grand Island lots was to be 
made at the State Land Office in Albany, other 


parties of capitalists had concluded to take a ven- 
ture in the speculation. 

"The sale took place. Mr. Leggett purchased 
one thousand and twenty acres at the head of the 
Island, at the cost of seven thousand, two hundred 
dollars, and fifteen hundred and thirty-five acres 
along the river in a compact body above, opposite, 
and below Tonawanda, at the price of nine 
thousand, seven hundred and eighty-five dollars ; 
being about fifty per cent above the average of 
what the whole body of land sold at per acre — that 
is to say : The whole seventeen thousand, three 
hundred and eighty-one acres sold for seventy-six 
thousand, two hundred and thirty dollars, being 
an average, including Mr. Leggett's purchase, of 
about four dollars and thirty-eight cents per 

"Next to Leggett, Messrs. John B. Yates and 
Archibald Mclntyre, then proprietors, by purchase 
from the State, of the vast system of lotteries, 
embracing those for the benefit of Union College, 
and other eleemosynary purposes — gambling in 
lotteries for the benefit of colleges and churches 
was thought to be a moral instrument in those 
days — purchased through other parties a large 
amount of the land, and Peter Smith, of Peters- 
borough (living, however, at Schenectady) — and 
the most extensive land speculator in the State, 
father of the present Gerrit Smith — took a large 
share of the remainder. To sum up, briefly, the 
result of the sale of Grand Island lands, Leggett 
and Yates and Mclntyre complied with the stipu- 


lated terms of the sale, paid over to the State their 
one-eighth of the purchase money, and gave their 
bonds for the remainder, while Smith — wary in 
land-purchasing practice when the State of New 
York was the seller — did no such thing. He paid 
his one-eighth of the purchase money down, as 
did the others, but neglected to give his bond for 
payment of the balance. The consequence was, 
when the "eclaf of Noah's Ararat subsided, and 
his scheme proved a failure, the land went down 
in value, and Smith forfeited his first payment, 
and the lots fell back to the State. But on a 
lower re-appraisal by the State some years after- 
wards. Smith again bought at less than one half 
the price at which he originally purchased, made 
his one-eighth payment again, and gave his bond 
as required ; thus pocketing by his future sale of 
the property, over twenty thousand dollars in the 

"All this, however, aside from Mr. Leggett's 
purchase for the benefit of Major Noah, has noth- 
ing to do with our main history, and is only given 
as an occurrence of the times. 

"Major Noah, now secure in the possession of a 
nucleus for his coveted "City of Refuge for the 
Jews", addressed himself to its foundation and 
dedication. He had heralded his intentions 
through the columns of his "NATIONAL 
ADVOCATE." His contemporaries of the press 
ridiculed his scheme and predicted its failure; 
yet true to his original purpose, he determined to 
carry it through. Wise Jews around him shook 


their^Jieads in doubt of his ability to effect his 
plans, and withheld from him their support. But, 
nothing daunted, he ventured it unaided, and al- 
most alone. By the aid of an indomitable friend, 
and equally enthusiastic co-laborer, Mr. A. B. 
Seixas, of New York, he made due preparations, 
and late in the month of August, in the year 
1825, with robes of office and insignia of rank 
securely packed, they left the city of New York 
for Buffalo. He was a stranger in our then little 
village of twenty-five hundred people, and could 
rely for countenance and aid only on his old 
friend, the late Isaac S. Smith, then residing here, 
whom he had known abroad while in his consulate 
at Tunis. In Mr. Smith, however, he found a 
ready assistant in his plans. Major Noah, with 
his friend Seixas, arrived in Buffalo in the last 
days of August. He had got prepared a stone, 
which was to be the "chief of the corner", with 
proper inscription, and of ample dimensions for 
the occasion. This stone was obtained from the 
Cleveland, Ohio, sandstone quarries. The inscrip- 
tion, written by Major Noah, was cut by the late 
Seth Chapin, of Buffalo. 

"As on examination when arriving here, he 
could not well get to Grand Island to locate and 
establish his city, it was concluded to lay the 
cornerstone in the Episcopal church of the village, 
then under the rectorship of Rev. Addison Searle. 
As this strange and remarkable proceeding, and 
the novel act of laying a foundation for a Jewish 
city, with its imposing rites and formula, its regal 


pomp and Jewish ceremony in a Christian Epis- 
copal church, with the aid of its authorized rector, 
may strike the present generation with surprise, 
a word or two may be said of the transaction. 

"The Rev. Mr. Searle was, at that time, the 
officiating clergyman in the little church of St. 
Paul's, in the village of Buffalo, and had been 
placed there as a missionary by the late wise and 
excellent Bishop Hobart. He held a government 
commission as chaplain of the United States, and 
had been granted some years furlough from active 
duty. He had been on foreign cruises, — had 
coasted the Mediterranean and spent months in 
the chief cities of its classic shores, and visited the 
beautiful Greek Island of Scios, a few weeks after 
the burning of its towns and the massacre of 
its people by the Turks, in 1822. He was an ac- 
complished and genial man, of commanding per- 
son, and portly mien; his manners were bland 
and his address courtly. Whether he had made 
the acquaintance of Major Noah abroad or in New 
York, or whether he first met him on this oc- 
casion at Buffalo, I know not, but their inter- 
course here was cordial and friendly. 

"On the second day of September, 1825, the im- 
posing ceremony of laying the cornerstone of the 
city of Ararat, to be built on Grand Island, took 
place, and as a full account of the doings of the 
day, written by Major Noah himself, was pub- 
lished at the time in the "Buffalo Patriot Extra", 
I take the liberty of repeating them from that 


"It was known, at the sale of that beautiful and 
valuable tract called Grand Island, a few miles 
below this port (Buffalo), in the Niagara river, 
that it was purchased, in part, by the friends of 
Major Noah, of New York, avowedly to offer it 
as an asylum for his brethren of the Jewish per- 
suasion, who, in the other parts of the world, are 
much oppressed, and it was likewise known that 
it was intended to erect upon the island a city 
called Ararat. We are gratified to perceive, by 
the documents in this day's "Extra" that, coupled 
with this colonization is a Declaration of Inde- 
pendence and the revival of the Jewish govern- 
ment under the protection of the United States, 
after the dispersion of that ancient and wealthy 
people for nearly two thousand years — and the 
appointment of Mr. Noah as first judge. It was 
intended, pursuant to the public notice, to cele- 
brate the event on the island, and a flagstaff was 
erected for the Grand Standard of Israel, and 
other arrangements made; but it was discovered 
that a sufficient number of boats could not be pro- 
cured in time to convey all those to the island who 
were desirous of witnessing the ceremony, and 
the celebration took place this day in the village, 
which was both interesting and impressive. At 
dawn of day, a salute was fired in front of the 
Court House, and from the terrace facing the 

"At ten o'clock the masonic and military compa- 
nies assembled in front of the Lodge, and at eleven, 
the line of procession was formed as follows : 



Grand Marshall, Col. Potter, on horseback. 



















STEWARDS, with corn, wine and oil 


with square level, and plumb. 



Square and Compass, borne by a Master Mason. 


In black, wearing the judicial robes of crimson silk, 

trimmed with ermine, and a richly embossed golden 

medal suspended from the neck. 






"On arriving at the church door, the troops 
opened to the right and left and the procession 
entered the aisles, the band playing the Grand 
March from Judas Maccabeus. The full-toned 
organ commenced its swelling notes, performing 
the Jubilate. On the communion table lay the 
corner stone, with the following inscription (the 
Hebrew is from Deut., vi. 4) : 


Founded by Mordecai Manuel Noah, in the month 

of Tizri, September 1825, in the 50th year of 

American Independence. 

"On the stone lay the silver cups with wine, 
corn and oil. 

"The ceremonies commenced by the Morning 
Service, read emphatically by the Rev. Mr. Searle 
of the Episcopal church. "Before Jehovah's Awful 
Throne" was sung by the choir to the tune of 
Old Hundred — Morning Prayer — First lesson from 
Jeremiah, — Second lesson, Zeph. iiiS — Psalms for 
the occasion xcvii, xcviii, xcix, Ps. cxxvii in verse 
— Ante Communion Service — Psalm in Hebrew — 

"Mr. Noah arose and pronounced a discourse, or 
rather delivered a speech, announcing the re- 
organization of the Jewish government, and going 
through a detail of many points of intense interest, 
to which a crowded auditory listened with pro- 
found attention. 


"At the conclusion of the ceremonies the pro- 
cession returned to the Lodge, and the Masonic 
brethren and the military repaired to the Eagle 
Tavern and partook of refreshments. The church 
was filled with ladies, and the whole ceremony 
was impressive and unique. A grand salute of 
twenty-four guns was fired by the artillery, and 
the band played a number of patriotic airs. 

"We learn that a vast concourse assembled at 
Tonawanda, expecting that the ceremonies would 
be at Grand Island. Many of them came up in 
carriages in time to hear the Inaugural speech. 
The following is the Proclamation, which will be 
read with great attention and interest. A finer 
day and more general satisfaction has not been 
known on any similar occasion. 


^'Whereas, it has pleased Almighty God to 
manifest to his chosen people the approach of 
that period when, in fulfillment of the promises 
made to the race of Jacob, and as a reward for 
their pious constancy and triumphant fidelity, 
they are to be gathered from the four quarters of 
the globe, and to resume their rank and character 
among the governments of the earth ; 

''And Whereas, the peace which now prevails 
among civilized nations, the progress of learning 
throughout the world, and the general spirit of 
liberality and toleration which exists together 
with other changes favorable to light and to 
liberty, mark in an especial manner the approach 


of that time, when ''peace on earth good will to 
man" are to prevail with a benign and extended 
influence, and the ancient people of God, the 
first to proclaim his unity and omnipotence, are to 
be restored to their inheritance, and enjoy the 
rights of a sovereign independent people; 

''Therefore, I, Mordecai Manuel Noah, citizen 
of the United States of America, late Consul of 
said States to the City and Kingdom of Tunis, 
High Sheriff of New York, Counsellor at Law, 
and by the grace of God, Governor and Judge of 
Israel, have issued this my Proclamation, an- 
nouncing to the Jews throughout the Avorld, that 
an asylum is prepared and hereby offered to them, 
where they can enjoy that peace, comfort and 
happiness which have been denied them through 
the intolerance and misgovernment of former 
ages ; an asylum in a free and powerful country 
remarkable for its vast resources, the richness of 
its soil, and the salubrity of its climate; where 
industry is encouraged, education promoted, and 
good faith rewarded, 'a land of milk and honey', 
where Israel may repose in peace, under his 
"vine and fig-tree", and where our people may so 
familiarize themselves with the science of govern- 
ment and the lights of learning and civilization, 
as may qualify them for that great and final res- 
toration to their ancient heritage, which the 
times so powerfully indicate. 

"The asylum referred to is in the State of 
New York, the greatest State in the American 
confederacy. New York contains forty-three 


thousand, two hundred and fourteen square miles, 
divided into fifty-five counties, and having six 
thousand and eighty-seven post towns and cities, 
containing one million, five hundred thousand in- 
habitants, together with six million acres of cul- 
tivated land, improvements in agriculture and 
manufactures, in trade and commerce, which in- 
clude a valuation of three hundred millions of 
dollars of taxable property ; one hundred and 
fifty thousand militia, armed and equipped ; a con- 
stitution founded upon an equality of rights, hav- 
ing no test-oaths, and recognizing no religious 
distinctions, and seven thousand free schools and 
colleges, affording the blessings of education to 
four hundred thousand children. Such is the 
great and increasing State to which the emigra- 
tion of the Jews is directed. 

"The desired spot in the State of New York, 
to which I hereby invite my beloved people 
throughout the world, in common with those of 
every religious denomination, is called Grand 
Island, and on which I shall lay the foundation 
of a City of Refuge, to be called Ararat. 

"Grand Island in the Niagara river is bounded 
by Ontario on the north, and Erie on the south, 
and within a few miles of each of these great 
commercial lakes. The island is nearly twelve 
miles in length, and varying from three to seven 
miles in breadth, and contains upwards of seven- 
teen thousand acres of remarkably rich and fertile 
land. Lake Erie is about two hundred and 
seventy miles in length, and borders on the States 


of New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio ; and west- 
wardly, by the possessions of our friends and 
neighbors, the British subjects of Upper Canada. 
This splendid lake unites itself by means of 
navigable rivers, with lakes St. Clair, Huron, 
Michigan and Superior, embracing a lake shore 
of nearly three thousand miles; and by short 
canals those vast sheets of water will be con- 
nected with the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, 
thereby establishing a great and valuable internal 
trade to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. 
Lake Ontario, on the north, is one hundred and 
ninety miles in length, and empties into the St. 
Lawrence, which, passing through the Province 
of Lower Canada, carries the commerce of Quebec 
and Montreal to the Atlantic Ocean. 

"Thus fortified to the right and left by the 
extensive commercial resources of the Great Lakes 
and their tributary streams, within four miles of 
the subHme Falls of Niagara, affording the great- 
est water-power in the world for manufacturing 
purposes, — directly opposite the mouth of the 
Grand Island Canal of three hundred and sixty 
miles inland navigation to the Hudson river and 
city of New York, — having the fur trade of Upper 
Canada to the west, and also of the great terri- 
tories towards the Rocky Mountains and the 
Pacific Ocean; likewise the trade of the Western 
States of America, — Grand Island may be con- 
sidered as surrounded by every commercial, 
manufacturing and agricultural advantage, and 
from its location is pre-eminently calculated to 


become, in time, the greatest trading and com- 
mercial depot in the new and better world. To 
men of worth and industry it has every substan- 
tial attraction ; the capitalist will be enabled to 
enjoy his resources with undoubted profit, and the 
merchant cannot fail to reap the reward of enter- 
prise in a great and growing republic; but to the 
industrious mechanic, manufacturer and agricul- 
turist it holds forth great and improving advan- 

''Deprived, as our people have been for centu- 
ries of a right in the soil, they will learn, with 
peculiar satisfaction, that here they can till the 
soil, reap the harvest, and raise the flocks which 
are unquestionably their own ; and, in the full and 
unmolested enjoyment of their religious rights, 
and of every civil immunity, together with peace 
and plenty, they can lift up their voice in grati- 
tude to Him who sustained our fathers in the 
wilderness, and brought us in triumph out of the 
land of Egypt; who assigned to us the safe-keep- 
ing of his oracles, who proclaimed us his people, 
and who has ever walked before us like a "Cloud 
by day and a pillar of fire by night". 

"In His name do I revive, renew and re- 
establish the government of the Jewish Nation, 
under the auspices and protection of the consti- 
tution and laws of the United States of America; 
confirming and perpetuating all our rights and 
privileges, — our name, our rank, and our power 
among the nations of the earth, — as they existed 
and were recognized under the government of the 


Judges. And I hereby enjoin it upon all our 
pious and venerable Rabbis, our Presidents and 
Elders of Synagogues, Chiefs of Colleges and 
brethren in authority throughout the world, to 
circulate and make known this, my Proclamation, 
and give it full publicity, credence and effect. 

"It is my will that a census of the Jews | 
throughout the world be taken, and returns of 
persons, together with their age and occupations { 
to be registered in the archives of the Synagogues 
where they are accustomed to worship, designat- 
ing such, in particular, as have been and are dis- 
tinguished in the useful arts, in science or in 

"Those of our people who, from age, local at- 
tachment, or from any other cause, prefer remain- 
ing in the several parts of the world which they 
now respectively inhabit, and who are treated 
with liberality by the public authorities, are per- 
mitted to do so, and are specially recommended 
to be faithful to the governments which protect 
them. It is, however, expected that they will aid 
and encourage the emigration of the young and 
enterprising, and endeavor to send to this country 
such as will add to our national strength and 
character, by their industry, honor and patriot- 

"Those Jews who are in the military employ- 
ment of the diflferent sovereigns of Europe are 
enjoined to keep in their ranks until further 
orders, and conduct themselves with bravery and 


"1 command that a strict neutrality be ob- 
served in the pending wars between the Greeks 
and the Turks, enjoined by considerations of 
safety towards a numerous population of Jews 
now under the oppressive dominion of the Otto- 
man Porte. 

"The annual gifts which, for many centuries, 
have been afforded to our pious brethren in our 
holy City of Jerusalem (to which may God 
speedily restore us) are to continue with unabated 
liberality; our seminaries of learning and institu- 
tions of charity in every part of the world are to 
be increased, in order that wisdom and virtue may 
permanently prevail among the chosen people. 

*T abolish forever polygamy among the Jews, 
which, without religious warrant, still exists in 
Asia, and Africa. I shall prohibit marriages or 
giving Kedushin without both parties are of a 
suitable age, and can read and write the language 
of the country which they respectively inhabit, 
and which I trust will ensure for their offspring 
the blessings of education and probably, the lights 
of science. 

"Prayers shall forever be said in the Hebrew 
language, but it is recommended that occasional 
discourses on the principles of the Jewish faith 
and the doctrines of morality generally, be de- 
livered in the language of the country; together 
with such reforms, which, without departing from 
the ancient faith, may add greater solemnity to 
our worship. 

"The Caraite and Samaritan Jews, together with 


the black Jews of India and Africa, and likewise \ 
those in Cochin, China and the sect on the coast 
of Malabar, are entitled to an equality of rights 
and religious privileges, as are all who may par- 
take of the great covenant and obey and respect 
the Mosaical laws. 

"The Indians of the American continent, in 
their admitted Asiatic origin — in their worship 
of God, — in their dialect and language, — in their 
sacrifices, marriages, divorces, burials, fastings, 
purifications, punishments, cities of refuge, divi- 
sions of tribes, — in their High Priests, — in their 
wars and in their victories, being in all probabili- 
ty, the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, 
which were carried captive by the King of Assyria, 
measures will be adopted to make them sensible 
of their condition and finally re-unite them with 
their brethren, the chosen people. . 

"A capitation tax of three shekels in silver, per ' 
annum, or one Spanish dollar, is hereby levied 
upon each Jew throughout the world, to be col- 
lected by the Treasurer of the diflferent congre- 
gations for the purpose of defraying the various 
expenses of re-organizing the government, of aid- 
ing emigrants in the purchase of agricultural im- 
plements, providing for their immediate wants 
and comforts, and assisting their families in mak- 
ing their first settlements, together with such 
free-will offerings as may be generally made in 
the furtherance of the laudable objects connected 
with the restoration of the people and the glory 
of the Jewish nation. A judge of Israel shall be 


chosen once in every four years by the Consistory 
at Paris, at which time proxies from every congre- 
gation shall be received. 

"I do hereby name as Commissioners, the most 
learned and pious Abraham de Cologna, Knight 
of the Iron Crown of Lombardy, Grand Rabbi of 
the Jews and President of the Consistory at Paris ; 
likewise the Grand Rabbi Andrade of Bordeaux ; 
and also our learned and esteemed Grand Rabbis 
of the German and Portugal Jews, in London, 
Rabbis Herschell and Meldola; together with the 
Honorable Aaron Nunez Cordoza, of Gibraltar, 
Abraham Busnac, of Leghorn, Benjamin Gradis 
of Bordeaux : Dr. E. Gans and Professor Zunz of 
Berlin, and Dr. Leo Woolf of Hamburg to aid 
and assist in carrying into effect the provisions 
of this my Proclamation, with powers to appoint 
the necessar}- agents in the several parts of the 
world, and to establish emigration societies, in 
order that the Jews may be concentrated and 
capacitated to act as a distinct body, having at the 
head of each kingdom or republic such presiding 
officers as I shall upon their recommendation ap- 
point. Instructions to these, my commissioners, 
shall be forthwith transmitted ; and a more en- 
larged and general view of plan, motives and ob- 
jects will be detailed in the address to the nation. 
The Consistory at Paris is hereby authorized and 
empowered to name three discreet persons of com- 
petent abilities, to visit the United States, and 
make such reports to the nation as the actual con- 
dition of this country shall warrant. 


*'I do appoint Roshhodesh Adar, February 7th, 
1826, to be observed with suitable demonstrations 
as a day of Thanksgiving to the Lord God of 
Israel for the manifold blessings and signal pro- 
tection which he has deigned to extend to his 
people, and in order, that, on that great occasion 
our prayers may be ottered for the continuance 
of His divine mercy and the fulfillment of all the 
promises and pledges made to the race of Jacob. 

'*I recommend peace and union among us; 
charity and good-will to all ; toleration and 
liberality to our brethren of every religious de- 
nomination, enjoined by the mild and just pre- 
cepts of our holy religion ; honor and good faith in 
the fulfillment of all our contracts, together w^ith 
temperance, economy, and industry in our habits. 

*'I humbly entreat to be remembered in your 
prayers ; and lastly and most earnestly I do enjoin 
you to 'keep the charge of the Holy God', to walk 
His ways, to keep His statutes, and His com- 
mandments, and His judgments, and His testi- 
monies, as it is written in the laws of Moses — 
"That thou mayest prosper in all thou doest, and 
whithersoever thou turnest thyself." 

"Given at Bufitalo, in the State of New York, 
this second day Tishri, in the year of the world 
5586, corresponding with the fifteenth day of 
September, 1825, and in the fiftieth year of 
American independence. 

"By the Judge, 
"A. B. Seixas, Secretary^ Pro tem." 


"The day succeeding the ceremonies — the "corn 
and wine and oil'', and "the Proclamation" — the 
newly constituted Judge in Israel issued another 
address (also printed in the Buffalo Patriot 
Extra), setting forth the design of the new city, 
and invoking the aid and countenance of his 
brethren abroad in contributing of their substance 
and influence to its uprising and population. 
Thus, with due benediction, ended the ceremonial 
— the first of its kind known in this country — of 
the corner-stone of an anticipated Hebrew, or 
any other city, being laid on the communion table 
of a Christian church! 

"The ceremonial, with its procession, "Masonic 
and Military", its pomp and magnificence, passed 
away. Major Noah, a day or two afterwards, de- 
parted for his home in New York; the "corner- 
stone" was taken from the audience-chamber of 
the church, and deposited against its rear wall, 
outside; and the great prospective City of Ararat, 
with its splendid predictions and promises, 
vanished, "and, like an unsubstantial pageant 
/faded — left not a rock behind". 
I "This was in fact, the whole affair. The for- 
eign Rabbis denounced Noah and his entire 
scheme. He had levied taxes of sundry "shekels' 
on all the Jewish tribes of the world, assumed 
supreme jurisdiction over their emigration to 
America, and sought to control their destinies 
afterwards. But, having no confidence in his 
plans or financial management, the American Jews 
even repudiated his proceedings ; and, after a 


storm of ridicule heaped on his presumptious 
head, the whole thing- died away, and passed 
among the other thousand-and-one absurdities of 
other character which had preceded it. Noah, 
however, with his ever-ready wit and newspaper 
at hand, replied to all the jeers and flings in good 
humor, and lost none of the prestige of his char- 
acter and position, either politically or morally. 
He was known to be eccentric in many things, 
and this was put down as the climax of his eccen- 
tricities. Poor in money always, he had no in- 
fluence in financial circles, yet he was a "power" 
in the State. Some years after his Ararat affair, 
he held the oflice of Judge in one of the criminal 
city courts of New York, with decided acceptance 
to the public — married a wealthy Jewess of high 
respectability — reared a family, and died some ten 
or a dozen years ago in New York, lamented by 
those who knew him, as a kind and generous 

"The subsequent history of the corner-stone 
which we have described, is imperfectly known. 
It is generally supposed, by those who have heard 
of the matter at all, that Ararat was actually 
founded on Grand Island, opposite Tonawanda; 
and some thirty or forty years ago, accounts were 
frequently published by tourists and in the news- 
papers, that the stone aforesaid stood, encased in 
a monument, on the actual spot selected by Noah 
for the building of his city. That the stone did 
so stand in a brick monument at Grand Island, 
opposite Tonawanda, but not on the site of any 


city, past or present, is a fact, and it came about 
in this wise : 

"In the summer of the year 1827, having be- 
come a resident of Buffalo in April of that year, I 
saw the stone leaning against the rear under- 
pinning of the little church of St. Paul, next to 
Pearl Street. It had stood there from the time it 
was removed at its consecration in 1825. When 
it was removed from the wall of the church I can- 
not say. In the year 1833, I made a purchase of 
Messrs. Samuel Leggett, of New York, Yates and 
Mclntyre, of Albany, and Peter Smith, of 
Schenectady, and a few other parties, on behalf 
of a company of gentlemen in Boston, Massachu- 
setts, with whom I had an interest, of the lands 
they held on Grand Island, amounting in all to 
about sixteen thousand acres. The average price 
paid for it was a little more than five dollars per 
acre. The principal object of the purchase was 
the valuable white-oak ship-timber abounding 
there, which it was intended to cut and convey 
to the Boston ship-yards. 

"A clearing and settlement was made on the 
island, opposite Tonawanda. Several houses were 
built, and a steam-mill for sawing the timber 
into planks, erected. A few months after the pur- 
chase, the year 1834, being one day at the house of 
General Peter B. Porter, at Black Rock, I saw 
Major Noah's corner-stone lying in his lawn near 
the river-front of his dwelling. In answer to my 
question, how it came there, he said, that being in 
New York some few years previous, and meet- 


ing Major Noah, with whom he had been long 
acquainted, he told him that his corner-stone of 
Ararat was standing behind St. Paul's church in 
Buffalo. Noah then requested him to take care 
of it, and place it in some secure spot, as he 
wished to have it preserved where it would not 
excite comment, for he had heard quite enough 
about it. In compliance with the request. General 
Porter took the stone, and placed it in his own 
grounds. Taking a fancy to the stone, I asked 
General Porter to give it to me, assuring him that 
I would take it to Grand Island, and give it an 
honorable position. He complied with my re- 
quest, and I removed it to the new settlement 
on the island. A decent architectural structure 
of brick was erected, standing about fourteen feet 
high and six feet square. A niche was made in 
the front, facing the river, in which the stone 
was placed, and a comely roof as a top finish, put 
over it. A steam passenger-boat was running for 
several years daily, through the summer, between 
Buffalo and the Falls of Niagara, touching each 
way at Whitehaven, the little Grand Island settle- 
ment, and many people went to shore to see the 
monument, which told a false history. Artists 
and tourists sketched the homely little structure, 
and copied the inscription on the stone, and the 
next year a "Guide Book to the Falls of Niagara" 
issued in Buffalo, by a young man named Ferris, 
I believe, had the monument, with the "Corner- 
stone of the Jewish City of Ararat" well engraved 
and described, conspicuous in its pages. That, of 


course, was sufficient authority for the belief that 
the city of Ararat was founded on that spot by 
Mordecai Manuel Noah. 

"The mill was taken down about the year 1850, 
and the monument becoming time-worn and 
dilapidated, was taken down also. We had no 
historical society in Buffalo then, and although the 
stone was my property, I had become careless of 
its possession, and, soon afterwards, Mr. Wallace 
Baxter, who owned a farm a couple of miles above 
Whithaven, on the river shore, took the stone 
and carried it to his place. By this removal, the 
farm of Baxter — taking the stone as authority — 
became as much the site of Ararat as White- 
haven had been. In the year 1864, the late Mr. 
Charles H. Waite, of this City, opened a water- 
ing place — "Sheenwater" — on the opposite, or 
Canadian side of the island, and Mr. Baxter 
carried the stone over there for the delectation of 
the visitors who congregated to that resort, thus 
establishing another locality of the renewed 
Ararat. Mr. Waite's house having burned a few 
months after the stone was removed there, he 
carefully placed it in an outhouse on the premises, 
where it remained until the last summer, when I 
obtained his leave to take it again in my posses- 
sion, which I did, and deposited it on my farm 
at the head of Grand Island, one of the original 
tracts of land which Mr. Leggett had purchased 
for Major Noah. There, too, had the traveling 
public seen it, might have been located another 
site for the Hebrew city. A short time after- 


wards I had the corner-stone taken to my prem- 
ises on Niagara street, in this city; the same to 
which General Porter then owning them, had 
removed it, previous to the year 1834. A few- 
weeks later it was again — and, I trust, finally — 
removed, and on the second day of January, in 
the year 1866, deposited in the official room of 
the Buffalo Historical Society, where it is duly 
honored w^ith a conspicuous position against its 
eastern wall, leaving the Hebrew "City of Ararat", 
a myth — never having existence, save in the 
prurient imagination of its projector, a record of 
which the table bears. 

"Like the dove which went out from the Ark 
of his great patriarchal progenitor, the stone of 
the latter has come back to its domicile, not 
in the Ark, but to the city which, in its embryo 
existence, first gave it shelter and protection, and, 
we trust, — unlike the dove, — to again go out no 
more. Just forty years from its exodus from the 
communion-table of the church of St. Paul, like 
the children of ancient Israel, has this eventful 
stone — meantime crossing, not the parted waters 
of the Red Sea, but the transparent waters of the 
Niagara, resting by the wayside, and traveling 
through the wilderness in circuitous wanderings — 
found its home in the rooms of the Buffalo 
Historical Society. 

"Thus ends the strange, eventful history of 
Major Noah, his Hebrew city and its corner- 
stone. Although that portion of the public, away 
from Buffalo, who ever heard anything of this 


modern Ararat, have believed, since the year 1825, 
that Major Noah actually purchased Grand Island, 
and founded his city, and laid his corner-stone 
upon it, the fact is, that he never owned an acre 
of its land, nor founded the city, nor laid a 
corner-stone there. Nor have I been able, after 
diligent inquiry, to ascertain that he ever set foot 
on the island. I have heard sundry traditions, 
lately, of his going there at the time he visited 
Buffalo in the year 1825. All these w^ere con- 
tradictory, and partially guess-work; no one, so 
far as I have ascertained, ever saw him there. 
Thus that point may be considered as definitely 

There was some foreign comment on Noah's 
Ararat plan which should be noted. Heinrich 
Heine mentioned the self-appointed Messiah as a 
butt for humorous reference in his correspond- 
ence with his friend Moses Moser. It is not 
strange that Heine should have written on the 
subject to Moser, who was his most intimate 
friend until 1830, and as Noah had been 
elected a member of the Verein fiir Kiiltur nnd 
Wissenschaft des Judentnms, of which Dr. Zunz 
and Professor Gans were, together with Moser, 
the founders. It will be remembered that Gans 
and Zunz had been named by Noah as two of 
the commissioners for Germany, the other being 
Dr. Leo Woolf of Hamburg, who were to assist 
in carrying into effect the Proclamation. In a 
letter from Heine to Moser under date of March 
23rd, 1826, we read, *'I dreamed, too, that Gans 


and Mordecai Noah met in Strahlau and that 
Gans, strange to say, was as silent as a fish. 
Zunz stood nearby smiling sarcastically, and said 
to his wife, 'Do you see, my mousie, I believe 
that Lehman' (Joseph Lehmann, the German 
journalist) 'delivered a long speech' (apparently 
in reference to Noah) 'in a grandiose tone, and 
adorned with expressions such as "enlighten- 
ment", "change of circumstances", and "the prog- 
ress of the Weltgeist," a long speech, during 
which I did not fall asleep, but on the contrary, 
awoke.' " It is doubtful whether any favorable 
comment had been expressed abroad at all. Abra- 
ham de Cologna, Chief Rabbi of Paris, protested 
against the carrying out of the project; Judah 
Jeitteles advised the Jews of Austria against immi- 
gration and ridiculed the undertaking. 

Noah's fervor for the actual settlement of dis- 
persed Jews was somewhat dampened by the 
failure of his Ararat project; but the idea never 
left his mind. From this time on, we find it con- 
stantly occupying a prominent part of important 
addresses delivered by him. Despite the fact 
that he considered the settlement of Ararat as the 
solution of the Jewish problem, it is very evident, 
from several hints in his proclamation, that he 
considered this as merely a preliminary step to 
the final re-establishment of the Jewish state in 
Palestine. It is only natural, therefore, that the 
Holy Land should have become in his nationalist 
activity, the goal of his desires. One of the most 
interesting of his lectures was delivered before 


the Mercantile Library Association in New York, 
in the year 1837, on *'The Evidences of The 
American Indians being the Descendants of the 
Lost Tribes of Israel". The discourse is signifi- 
cant, not because of any ethnological value that 
may be attached to it, but because the subject 
served Noah with an opportunity to express his 
hope for the consummation of Jewish nationalist 
ideals. After laboriously accumulating a mass of 
material by which he endeavored to prove the 
identity of the Indians as the Lost Tribes, Noah 
seemed deliberately to have forgotten all about 
this point at the end of his discussion and con- 
cluded in the following words : 

''Our prophet Isaiah has a noble reference to 
the dispersed tribes and their redemption, which 
may be here appropriately quoted. I use his 
language, the Hebrew, which from its peculiar 
associations should be always interesting to you." 
Here Noah quoted in Hebrew from Isaiah, Cap. 
XI, xi: 

iDy n«tr nw m:p'7 n*" rr'Jtr •'n^ ^-'dt' i^^nn orn n'^n^ 
trir>Di DnnsDi nn^^DJiDi mi:*«D ^i^^^ n^« 

and translating, "And it shall come to pass in 
that day, that the Lord shall set his hand the 
second time to recover the remnant of his people, 
which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, 
and from Pathros, and from Cush, etc." 

''Possibly, the restoration may be near enough 
to include even a portion of these interesting 
people (the Indians). Our learned Rabbis have 
always deemed it sinful to compute the period of 


the restoration ; they believe that when the sins 
of the nation were atoned for, the miracle of their 
redemption would be manifested. My faith does 
not rest wholly in miracles — Providence disposes i ( 
of events, human agency must carry them out. 
That benign and supreme power which the 
children of Israel have never forsaken, has pro- 
tected the chosen people amidst the most ap- 
palling dangers, has saved them from the up- 
lifted sword of the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the 
Medes, the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans, 
and while the most powerful nations of antiquity 
have crumbled to pieces, we have been preserved, 
united and unbroken, the same now as we were 
in the days of the patriarchs — brought from 
darkness to light, from the early and rude periods 
of learning to the bright reality of civilization, of 
arts, of education and of science. 

"The Jewish people must now do something I I 
for themselves ; they must move onward to the ^ 
accomplishment of that great event long fore- 
told, long promised — long expected; and when 
they do move, that mighty power which has for 
thousands of years rebuked the proscription and 
intolerance shown to the Jews, by a benign pro- 
tection of the whole nation, will still cover them 
with his invincible standard. 

"My belief is that Syria will revert to the 
Jewish nation by purchase, and that the facility .. 
exhibited in the accumulation of wealth, has been \\ 
2l providential and peculiar gift to enable them, at 
a proper time, to re-occupy their ancient posses- 


sions by the purse-string instead of the sword. 

"We live in a remarkable age, and political 
events are producing extraordinary changes 
among the nations of the earth. 

"Russia, with its gigantic power, continues to 
press hard on Turkey. The Pacha of Egypt, tak- 
ing advantage of the improvements and inven- 
tions of men of genius, is extending his territory 
and influence to the straits of Babelmandel on the 
Red Sea, and to the borders of the Russian 
Empire; and the combined force of Russia, Tur- 
key, Persia, and Egypt, seriously threaten the 
safety of British possessions in the East Indies. 
An intermediate and balancing power is required 
) to check this thirst of conquest and territorial pos- 
session,, and to keep in check the advances of 
Russia and Turkey and Persia, and the ambition 
and love of conquest in Egypt. This can be done by 
restoring Syria to its rightful owners, not by revo- 
lution or blood, but as I have said, by the pur- 
chase of that territory from the Pacha of Egypt, 
for a sum of money too tempting in its amount 
for him to refuse, in the present reduced state of 
his coffers. Twelve or thirteen millions of dol- 
lars have been spoken of in reference to the 
cession of that interesting territory, a sum of no 
consideration to the Jews, for the good will and 
peaceable possession of a land, which to them is 
above all price. Under the co-operation and pro- 
tection of England and France, this re-occupation 
I jof Syria within its old territorial limits, is at once 
'reasonable and practicable. 


"By opening the ports of Damascus, Tripoli, 
Joppa, Acre, etc., the whole of the commerce of 
Turkey, Egypt and the Mediterranean will be in 
the hands of those, who even now in part, control 
the commerce of Europe. From the Danube, the 
Dniester, the Ukraine, Wallachia and Moldavia, 
the best of agriculturalists would revive the 
former fertility of Palestine. Manufacturers from 
Germany and Holland; an army of experience 
and bravery from France and Italy; ingenuity, 
intelligence, activity, energy and enterprise from 
all parts of the world, under a just, tolerant and 
a liberal government, present a formidable barrier 
to the encroachments of surrounding powers, and 
be a bulwark to the interests of England and 
France, as well as the rising liberties of Greece. 

"Once again unfurl the standard of Judah on 
Mount Zion, the four corners of the earth will 
give up the chosen people as the sea will give up 
its dead, at the sound of the last trumpet. Let 
the cry be Jerusalem, as it was in the days of 
Saracen and the lion-hearted Richard of England, 
and the rags and wretchedness which have for 
eighteen centuries enveloped the persons of the 
Jews, crushed as they were by persecution and 
injustice, will fall to earth ; and they will stand 
forth, the richest, the most powerful, the most in- 
telligent nation on the face of the globe, with 
incalculable wealth, and holding in pledge the 
crowns and sceptres of kings. Placed in posses- 
sion of their ancient heritage by and with the 
consent and co-operation of their Christian breth- 



ren, establishing a government of peace and good 
will on earth, it may then be said, behold the 
fulfillment of prediction and prophecy; behold 
the chosen and favored people of the Almighty 
God, who in defense of his unity and omnipotence, 
have been the outcast and proscribed of all na- 
tions, and who for thousands of years have pa- 
tiently endured the severest of human sufferings, 
in the hope of that great advent of which they 
never have despaired : and then when taking their 
rank once more among the nations of the earth, 
with the good wishes and affectionate regards 
of the great family of mankind, they may by 
their tolerance, their good faith, their charity and 
enlarged liberal views, merit what has been said 
in their behalf by inspired writers, "Blessed are 
they who bless Israel." 

At this point, it may be noted, as an instance 
of his keen interest in things Jewish, that in 1840, 
Noah, together with Mr. Alex S. Gould, published 
a translation of "The Book of Jasher". Edited 
by Major Noah, he did not pretend that the work 
was the true historical chronicle, but merely de- 
clared it to be a translation of a very ancient 
Hebrew manuscript. The editor, in a rather 
negative way, did hazard the opinion, however, 
that it might have been the book referred to in 
Joshua and Second Samuel. The publication 
excited the attention of a number of eminent 
critics, by whom it was unanimously declared to 
be a great literary curiosity, meriting attention in 
many respects. The book, thus published in 



ox Q{B 




Cartt^ a SUip of l(e JLjiRH of SststU 


nAR?£R St BBpTffER^ Sit CUrr-STReBT' 


[Fac-simile of title page] 


English for the first time, was said to have been 
discovered in Jerusalem at its capture under 
Titus, and printed in Venice in 1613. 

The third and last of Noah's plans for the 
rehabilitation of the Jewish nation was sent 
forth in his famous ''Discourse on the Restora- 
tion of the Jews", delivered on October 28th and 
December 2nd, 1844, before large audiences of 
Jews and Christians, and attracting much atten- 
tion at the time, his address being reported at 
length in the newspapers of the day. This at- 
tempt was a passionate appeal by one to whose 
heart there was nothing dearer than the destiny 
of his people and whose faith in his Christian 
countrymen was such that he believed that 
through them our hopes were to be realized. He 
saw a beautiful vision and he painted it in glow- 
ing oratory to the America that he so loved 
and trusted. He told them of the richness of the 
Palestinian soil, the wonders of the climate, how 
"coffee trees grew almost spontaneously and 
every fruit flourished." He enumerated what 
advantages would accrue to the rest of the world 
after Jewish occupation, telling them that "this 
may be the glorious result of any liberal move- 
ment you may be disposed to make in promoting 
the final destiny of the Chosen People." 

The United States could, according to Noah, 
by a single effort, acquire for the Jewish nation 
liberty and independence. "The United States, 
the only country which has given civil and 
religious rights to the Jews equal with all other 


sects; the only country which has not persecuted 
them, has been selected and pointedly distin- 
guished in the prophecy as the nation, which, at 
a proper time, shall present to the Lord His 
chosen and down-trodden people, and pave the 
way for the restoration to Zion. But will they go, 
I am asked, when the day of redemption arrives? 
All will go who feel the oppressor's yoke. We may 
repose where we are free and happy, but those 
will go who, bowed to the earth by oppression, 
would gladly exchange a condition of vassalage 
for the hope of freedom : that hope the Jews can 
never surrender; they can not stand up against 
the prediction of our prophets, against the prom- 
ises of God ; they cease to be a nation, a people, a 
sect, when they do so. Let the people go — point 
out the path for them in safety, and they will go, 
not all, but sufficient to constitute he elements of 
a powerful government, and those who are happy 
here may cast their eyes toward the sun as it rises, 
and know that it rises on a free and happy people 
beyond the mountains of Judaea, and feel doubly 
happy in the conviction that God has redeemed 
all his promises to Jacob.... I should think 
that the very idea, the hope, the prospect, and 
above all, the certainty of restoring Israel to his 
own and promised land, would arouse the whole 
civilized world to a cordial and happy co-oper- 
ation. ..." 

"Let me therefore impress upon your minds the 
important fact, that the liberty and independence 
of the Jewish nation may grow out of a single 


effort which this country may make in their 
behalf. That effort is to procure for them a 
permission to purchase and hold land in security 
and peace; their titles and possessions confirmed; 
their fields and flocks undisturbed. They want 
only protection, and the work is accomplished. 
The Turkish government cannot be insensible to 
the fact that clouds are gathering around them, 
and destiny, in which they wholly confide, teaches 
them to await the day of trouble and dismember- 
ment. It is to their interest to draw around 
them the friendly aid and co-operation of the 
Jewish people throughout the world, by con- 
ferring these reasonable and just privileges upon 
them, and when Christianity exerts its powerful 
agency, and stretches forth its friendly hand, the 
right solicited will be cheerfully conferred. When 
the Jewish people can return to Palestine, and 
feel that in their persons and property they are 
as safe from danger as they are under Christian 
governments, they will make their purchases of 
select positions, and occupy them peaceably and 
prosperously ; confidence will with them take the 
place of distrust and, by degrees, the population 
in every part of Syria being greatly increased, 
will become consolidated, and ready to unfold the 
standard when political events shall demonstrate 
to them that the time has arrived." 

It is only natural that a man so versatile and 
picturesque as Major Noah should excite the 
interest of men of letters. He has been celebrated 
in fiction by Israel Zangwill and Alfred Henry 


Lewis. In "Peggy O'Neal", by Lewis, a narrative 
centering around President Andrew Jackson and 
the social life in Washington during his administra- 
tion, Noah is pictured as a strong partisan of the 
General's, ever ready with his advice and his 
sword-arm to aid his side. Mordecai Noah runs 
in and out of the interesting novel in intermittent 
fashion "like a needle through cloth", as the 
author himself aptly terms it. 

"His sewing, however, is of the friendliest," we 
read, "for he was loyal to the General as any soul 
who breathed." The sketch of Noah in "Peggy 
O'Neal" is almost historically accurate in its 
fundamentals, except that, for the sake of draw- 
ing a consistent and attractive character who is 
always materially friendly to the hero and the 
heroine, there are occasional departures from 

Lewis, who wrote in a captivating style, intro- 
duces Major Noah as a writer of plays and an 
editor. "Moreover," he continues, "he was a 
gentleman of substance and celebration in New 
York City, where his paper did stout service for 
the General. Noah had also been America's 
envoy to the Barbary States during the years of 
Madison. A Hebrew of purest strain, Noah was 
of the Tribe of Judah and the House of David, 
and the wiseacres of his race told his lineage, and 
that he was descended of David in a right line 
and would be a present King of the Jews were it 
not that the latter owned neither country nor 
throne. Noah was of culture and quiet penetra- 


tion ; withal cunning and fertile to a degree. Also, 
I found his courage to be the steadiest; he would 
fight with slight reason, and had in a duel some 
twenty years before, with the first fire, killed one 
Cantor, a flamboyant person — the world might 
well spare him — on the Charleston racetrack, 
respectably at ten paces. I incline to grant space 
favorable to Noah ; for he played his part with 
an integrity as fine as his intelligence, while his 
own modesty, coupled with that vulgar dislike of 
Jews by one who otherwise might have named 
him in the annals of that day, has operated to 
obscure his name." 

Far more interesting to us, in our discussion of 
Noah from the Jewish viewpoint, is Zangwill's 
story, "Noah's Ark", a story which has a mystical 
fascination. It stands on ''the firmer Ararat of 
history", as Mr. Zangwill notes in his preface to 
"They That Walk in Darkness", comparing it to 
the other tragedies included in the same volume, 
"my invention being confined to the figure of 
Peloni (the Hebrew for 'nobody')." It is largely 
through the popularity of Mr. Zangwill's works 
that the character of Noah is generally known, 
and it does not require great foresight to foretell 
that, without a less fictional interpretation of 
Noah's attempt to found a Jewish state in 
America, the whole account will become a sadly 
beautiful legend. 

Peloni, on a summer's day in 1825, remarks an 
unwonted stir in the Judengasse of Frankfurt, 
Germany. On approaching the Synagogue he 


finds a loitering crowd reading a long Proclama- 
tion in a couple of folio sheets nailed on the door. 
It was Noah's pronunciamento to the Jews of 
the world announcing the restoration of Israel. 
The crowd received the announcement, but coldly, 
and derisive comments followed one after the 
other. Peloni did not heed them. **For God's 
sake, brethren!" cried he. "this is no joke. Have 
you forgotten already that here we are only 

Nobody other than Peloni was impressed with 
the announcement by the self-appointed Judge of 
Israel. "Noah's a madman, and you're an infant," 
Peioni's friends told him. 

So he sailed for New York alone. 

Using Peioni's character as a vehicle for carry- 
ing him through the history of Noah's project, 
Mr. Zangwill touches the high points of the 
event and renders an almost accurate account of 
the whole operation. 

In the story it is related that Peloni met Noah, 
and the Judge of Israel commissioned him to 
place the flag of Israel on Grand Island. Peloni 
proceeded to the place and planted the flagstaff 
in the ground, and the flag bearing the Lion of 
Judah and the seven stars flapped in the face of 
an inattentive universe. Meantime, "appropriate" 
ceremonies in St. Paul's Church in Buft'alo were 
conducted by ^lajor Noah. A salvo of twenty- 
four guns rounded off the great day of Israel's 
restoration. . . . 

"Peloni remained on the Island. He heard 


faintly the cannonading that preceded and con- 
cluded the laying of the foundation stone in the 
chancel of the church, and he expected Noah the 
next day at the latest. But the next day passed, 
and no Noah. Only a letter and some news- 
papers sent by messenger by the Judge of Israel, 
reporting "glorious success, thank Heaven". 

* * * 

"So winter came, and there was still nothing 

to record It was very lonely.... Peloni 

had heard from no one, neither from Noah, nor 
Smith, nor any Jewish or even Indian pilgrim to 
the New Jerusalem. The old despair began to 
twine round him like some serpent of ice. As he 
listened in such moods to the distant thunder of 
Niagara — which waxed louder as the air grew 
heavier, till it quite dominated the ever present 
rumble of the rapids — the sound took on endless 
meanings to his feverish brain. Now it was no 
longer the voice of the Eternal Being, it was the 
endless plaint of Israel beseeching the deaf 
heaven, the roar of prayer from some measureless 
synagogue ; now it was the raucous voice of per- 
secution, the dull bestial roar of malicious multi- 
tudes ; and again it was the voice of the whole 
earth, groaning and travailing. And the horror of 
it was that it would not stop. It dropped on his 
brain, this falling water, as on the prisoner's in 
the mediaeval torture chamber. Could no one 
stop this turning wheel of the world, jar it grind- 
ing to a standstill? 

"Spring wore slowly round again. The icicles 


melted, the friezes dripped away, the fantastic 
mufflers slipped from the trees, and the young 
buds peeped out and the young birds sang. The 
river flowed uncurdled, the cataracts fell un- 

"In Peloni's breast alone the ice did not melt: 
No new sap stirred in his veins. The very rain- 
bows on the leaping mist were now only of the 
Biblical promise that the world would go on 
forever ; forever the wheel would turn, and Israel 
wander homeless. And at last, one sunny day, a 
boat arrived with a message from the Master. 
Alas ! even Noah had abandoned Ararat. "I am 
beginning to see", he wrote, "that our only hope 
is Palestine. Zion alone has magnetism for the 

"Peloni wandered automatically to the apex of 
the island at Burnt Ship Bay, and stood gazing 
meaninglessly at the fragments of the sunken 
ships. Before him raced the rapids, frenziedly 
anxious for the great leap. Even so, he thought, 
had Noah and he dreamed Israel would haste to 
Ararat. And Niagara maintained its mocking 
roar — its roar of gigantic laughter. 

"Re-erect Solomon's Temple in Palestine !" 

"As he lifted his swimming eyes he saw to his 
astonishment that he was no longer alone. A 
tall majestic figure stood gazing at him : a grave, 
sorrowful Indian, feathered and tufted, habited 
only in buckskin leggings, and girdled by a belt 
of wampum. A musket in his hand showed he 
had been hunting, and a canoe Peloni now saw 


tethered to the bank indicated he was going back 
to his lodge. Peloni knew from his talks with 
the Tonawanda Indians opposite Ararat that this 
was Red Jacket, the famous chief of the Iroquois, 
the ancient lords of the soil. Peloni tendered the 
salute due to the royalty stamped on the man. 
Red Jacket ceremoniously acknowledged the 
obeisance. They gazed silently at each other, the 
puny, stooping scholar from the German Ghetto, 
and the stalwart, kingly savage. 

*'Tell me," said Red Jacket imperiously, "what 
nation are you that build a monument but never 
a city like the other white men, nor even a camp 
like my people?" 

"Great Chief," replied Peloni in his best Iro- 
quois, "We are a people that build for others." 

"I would ye would build for my people then. 
For these white men sweep us back, farther, 
farther, till there is nothing but" — and he made 
an eloquent gesture, implying the sweep into the 
river, into the jaws of the hurrying rapids. "Yet, 
methinks, I heard of a plan of your people — of 
a great pow-wow of your chiefs in a church, of 
a great city to be born here." 

"It is dead before birth," said Peloni. 

"Strange," mused Red Jacket. "Scarce twenty 
summers ago Joseph Elliott came here to plan 
out his city on a soil that was not his, and lo! 
this Buffalo rises already mighty and menacing. 
To-morrow it will be at my wigwam door — and 
we" — another gesture, hopeless, yet full of regal 
dignity, rounded off the sentence. 


"And in that instant it was borne in upon 
Peloni that they were indeed brothers : The Jew 
who stood for the world that could not be born 
again, and the Red Indian who stood for the 
world that must pass away. Yes, they both were 
doomed. Israel had been too bent and broken 
by the long dispersion and the long persecution : 
the spring was snapped ; he could not recover. 
He had been too long the pliant protege of kings 
and popes : he had prayed too many centuries in 
too many countries for the simultaneous welfare 
of too many governments, to be capable of realiz- 
ing that government of his own for which he 
likewise prayed. This pious patience — this re- 
jection of the burden onto the shoulders of Messiah 
and Miracle — was it more than the veil of un- 
conscious impotence? Ah, better sweep oneself 
away than endure long ignominy. And Niagara 
laughed on. 

"May I have the privilege of crossing in your 
canoe?" he asked. 

"You are not afraid?" said Red Jacket. "The 
rapids are dangerous here." 

"Afraid !" Peloni's inward laughter seemed to 
match Niagara's. 

"When he got to the mainland, he made 
straight for the Falls. He was on the American 
side, and he paused on the sward, on the very 
brink of the tameless cataract, that had for im- 
memorial ages been driving itself backward by 
eating away its own rock. His fascinated eyes 


watched the curious smooth, purring slide of the 
vast mass of green water of the sharp edges, un- 
ending, unresting, the eternal revolution of a 
maddening, imperturbable wheel. O that blind 
wheel, turning, while the generations waxed and 
waned, one succeeding the other without haste 
or rest or possibility of pause: creatures of 
meaningless majesty, shadows of shadows, dream- 
ing of love and justice and fading into the kindred 
mist, while this solid green cataract roared and 
raced through aeons innumerable, stable as the 
stars, thundering in majestic meaninglessness. 
And suddenly he threw himself into its remorse- 
less whirl and was sucked down into the mon- 
strous chaos of seething waters and whirled and 
hurled amid the rocks, battered and shapeless, 
but still holding Noah's letter in his convulsively 
clinched hand, while the rainbowed spray leapt 
impassively heavenward. 

"The corner-stone of Ararat lies in the rooms 
of the Buffalo Historical Society, and no one who 
copies the inscription dreams that it is the grave- 
stone of Peloni. 

"And while the very monument has mouldered 
away in Ararat, Buflfalo sits throned amid her 
waters, the Queen City of the Empire State, with 
the world's commerce at her feet. And from 
their palaces of Medina sandstone, the Christian 
railroad kings go out to sail in their luxurious , 
yachts — vessels not of bulrushes but driven by 
steam, as predicted by Mordecai Manuel Noah, 
Governor and Judge of Israel." 


In this connection, it is interesting to note that 
Mr. Zangwill, speaking before the London Uni- 
versity Society, on the occasion of the twenty- 
fifth anniversary of Pinsker's death,* in a very 
interesting manner Hnked the names of Noah, 
Pinsker and Herzl. "Pinsker's Auto-Emancipa- 
tion", he said, "pubHshed in 1881, was a brilliant 
anticipation of much later history and literature, 
and its brilliance was not that of flowers or jewels 
but of fire". 

"Its problem was seen with a burning sense of 
the great Jewish tragedy and resolved in words 
of flame," continued Mr. Zangwill. ''It was a 
great book. Yet Herzl, when he wrote his 
"Judenstaat" in 1895, had probably never heard 
of it, and this, though Pinsker's book had pre- 
ceded his in calling forth a Congress from almost 
every country of Europe. I said that Pinsker was 
the father of all Auto-Emancipation. But it is a 
wise child that knows his own father, and I, too, 
had never seen this book till years after the Ito 
was established. Before Pinsker, there had been 
the American Sephardi, Mordecai Manuel Noah, 
who in 1825 not only planned a great Jewish 
colony on an island in the State of New York, 
but actually bought land for it, and issued an in- 
vitation to the Ghettos of Europe to flock to his 
Ararat, and even held the Dedication Service — as 
readers of my story, "Noah's Ark", may re- 
member. How comes it that a Russian like 

♦December 16, 1916. 


Pinsker, an Austrian like Herzl, an American like 
Noah, and an Englishman like myself, are all 
found putting forth the same solution of the 
Jewish problem? Is it plagiarism? Not at all. 
Herzl, Pinsker, Noah, were in sublime uncon- 
sciousness of one another. It is because there is 
what the advertisements call "a. felt want", and 
this want prompts everywhere the same sug- 
gestion for meeting it. The bulk of our troubles 
springing from our lack of a common land or 
even of a majority anywhere, it is a natural sug- 
gestion that we should re-establish ourselves 
upon a normal national basis. 

"The interesting fact remains," said Mr. Zang- 
will, "that Herzl's Congress, called for Territorial- 
ism, ended in the adoption of Palestine as its goal, 
that Pinsker's Congress, called for Territorialism, 
ended in a society to aid Palestine immigrants, 
and that even Noah's institution, "Ararat", was 
replaced by a rallying call to Zion." 

Through the changing years, Noah has been 
remembered. Here and there a chance sentence 
in an obscure work, now and then a little story 
or anectode, indicate that he will not be entirely 
forgotten. Interpret his endeavors as a Jewish 
nationalist however one will, there remains chiefly 
the fact that all of his efforts must inevitably 
have failed because of the remoteness of America 
from the great Jewish centers of population and 
learning during the early nineteenth century and 
because of the unpropitious times. No careful 
analysis of why Noah failed is necessary in these 


days, for the reasons are, in the light of history, 
simple enough and obvious to all. 

History tells us that in every clime, at every 
period, all sorts and conditions of men have boldly 
entered the arena willing to battle for Jewish 
liberty and national security. They have been, 
for the most part, men of genius and understand- 
ing and something more than mere dreamers. 
Out of the mist of the past a finger ever points 
toward the hills of Judaea, and we who live con- 
scious of our heritage shall ever strive to regain 
that for which our forefathers so valiantly sacri- 
ficed their blood, and which, having achieved, 
they lost as brave men and true. 

There is a land forever Israel's. The grey, 
cold hand of a merciless Fate may temporarily 
scatter us, cast us among the nations, strangers 
in strange lands, wayfarers in foreign countries, 
but we shall ever turn our eyes eastward, the 
hope and homesickness of centuries in our hearts, 
a prayer on our lips. Enticing gifts of social and 
political equality may lure many from our ranks, 
the oppressor's knout may weaken our powers, 
but rather than forget Jerusalem we should relin- 
quish our right to live, and we shall never fail to 
believe in the restoration of Israel to his own — 
else, we fail to grasp the significance of our 
history. Neither kindness nor cruelty will anni- 
hilate us, is the warning of Time. We will fear 
God — and take our own part. 


ON FASHION, by Mordecai Manuel Noah, in 

"Gleanings From A Gathered Harvest." 

New York, 1845. 

Dame Fortune has been generally represented 
as blind and fickle, and I have often thought that 
Fashion should also be personified. If we call 
her a dame, she must be more fickle and eccentric 
than ever Fortune was. 

The variety of changes to which the civilized 
world has been subjected by Fashion, and the in- 
ordinate extravagance which has resulted from 
these useless changes, have produced incalculable 
evils in laying a foundation for waste and pro- 
fusion, the ill effects of which are constantly 
felt. In former times, a house was furnished 
with the utmost prudence — no useless article was 
ever purchased — and the high backed mahogany 
chairs, the heavy carved mirrors, the bed and 
double curtains, and all the ornaments of the 
mansion, were selected for their lasting and use- 
ful qualities. If, after an absence of twenty 
years, a friend returned to his country, his eyes 
were greeted with the same old-fashioned, yet 
ponderous furniture, which time had familiarized, 
and even rendered dear to him ; he saw and 
recognized the old china jars, the sprigged tea- 
cups and flowered plates, the old chased sugar 
dish and teapot, the spinnet, the highly polished 



wardrobe, in which were deposited the brocade 
dresses of his grandma and the embroidered 
waistcoats of his grandfather; all these objects 
revived the recollection of earlier days, of happier 
moments, and served to increase that attachment 
to home, in which are centered so many enjoy- 
ments. But now the scene is altered, and the 
furniture of a house is changed as frequently as 
a coat and waistcoat. Instead of the useful and 
durable, we have the light and flimsy ornaments 
of a drawing room : gilt vases, cut glass chande- 
liers, grand pianos, silk curtains, and all the para- 
phernalia of a fairy's palace. Immense fortunes 
are thus thrown away on these fickle, thought- 
less changes, and, as Peter Trot says, "the up- 
holsterer has scarcely done knocking up, when in 
comes the auctioneer and knocks down." 

Thus fashion may be called fickle, expensive, 
and some times imperative ; it ought to be re- 
sisted with firmness and decision. I would, by no 
means, be so much "out of fashion" as to be 
peculiarly strange and absurd ; but to follow all 
its eccentricities, to be a slave to its caprices ; and 
ruined by its changes, is to be, at once, deaf to 
prudence, discretion, and good sense. 

It is not over the domestic organization alone, 
that fashion exercises a powerful influence ; it 
extends to the person, and is equally as fickle and 
as costly in matters of dress and personal orna- 
ment. Look into the bureaus and trunks of 
modern men of fashion, and see the number of 
coats, waistcoats, pantaloons, hats, and boots. 


Why this unnecessary accumulation of clothing? 
Why purchase more than is absolutely necessary 
to make a respectable appearance? Think you it 
adds to the importance of a man to wear a blue 
coat at breakfast, a pea green at dinner, and a 
black in the evening? Then the ladies, have they 
not many superfluities, and might they not forego 
a number with convenience and advantage? Are 
there not many expenses which they could curtail 
— many trifles which they could economize? It 
frequently happens, that both male and female, 
by following fashion with an extreme devotion, 
and pursuing her through every mazy course, 
only fall into ludicrous errors, and frequently cut 
a very sorry figure. 

A few evenings since, I casually paid a visit to 
an old friend, and was surprised to find the rooms 
illuminated and filled with gayly dressed ladies 
and gentlemen. I took my seat on a sofa, be- 
tween two pretty smiling lasses, who said many 
handsome things to me, though I am not now a 
young man. The conversation at last turned on 
fashions, taste, extravagance, and so on, to 
domestic economy. A young gentleman, whose 
impudence equalled his folly, came in front of 
the sofa, and stood before the ladies, in an atti- 
tude inexpressibly inelegant, though it may have 
been fashionable; he had on a pair of petticoat 
pantaloons, varnished boots, flashy silk vest, his 
waist compressed by corsets to nearly the shape 
of a wasp's; a cravat which nearly choked him; 
rings and seals in the usual quantity; the animal 


straddled before the ladies, with his thumbs 
elegantly hitched in the flaps of his pantaloons, 
or dangling his yellow kids, and with a squeaking 
effeminate voice, pronounced sentence of dis- 
pleasure on all these meddling busy bodies, and 
would-be scribblers, who, having no money of 
their own, insolently obtruded their advice on 
men of fashion, and presumed to dictate about 
what they had neither the ability to understand 
nor the sense to appreciate ! He liked sentiment, 
he said, evening dress — 'pon honor, he had a 
natural horror of all sentimental boobies, who 
could not understand the dignity of taste and 
fashion — so he had! The ladies smiled, but not 
in approbation, and they seemed rather to enjoy 
the appearance which this caricature of humanity 
made, now holding a glass of ice cream in one 
hand, and with the other occasionally arranging 
his bushy hair, and rendering himself more fright- 
ful and disgusting. 

At this period, the sky, which had been over- 
cast, became quite black, and peals of thunder 
broke upon the ear, accompanied with vivid 
flashes of lightning. The ladies arose somewhat 
discomposed; but one, young and beautiful, with 
whom I was conversing, turned from me very 
quickly, put her hand to her bosom, and drew out 
a piece of long black iron or steel, which in her 
confusion, she let fall — I stooped, picked it up, 
and handed it to her, observing that confusion. 
"It is my corset bone," whispered she ; *T am so 
afraid of the lightning that I have to take it 


out — do keep it for me, dear Sir, and don't look 
angry; it is the fashion, and it is French also!" 

Alas! what is fashion to bring us to? A young 
and lively female casing herself in steel, flying 
from the elements, binding and compressing her 
delicate frame and blasting her fair skin by the 
rude embrace of a vile black substance, checking 
respiration, obstructing the full use of her lungs 
and muscles, laying the foundation for cramps, 
pains, and consumption, and courting death, dis- 
guised in the alluring and illusive shape of 
Fashion! "Fie on't! O, fie!" 


Some idea of the prominence and position of 
Major Noah is conveyed by the following editorial 
which appeared in "The Asmonean" (N. Y.), on 
March 28th, 1851. The editor of this periodical, 
"the organ of American Israelites", was Robert 
Lyon. The editorial page of the issue which in- 
cluded this tribute to Noah was bordered in 
heavy black, and fully two columns were devoted 
to an account of the funeral, which was attended 
by a "dense throng of persons" including "the 
representatives of the Bench, the Bar, and the 
Mart, without distinction of creed; doctors, 
authors, musicians, comedians, editors, mechanics, 
professionals and non-professionals, all classes 
vieing with each other in eager desire to offer a 
tribute of respect to the mortal remains of Major 


(Editorial from "The Asmonean", March 28, 1851) 

Among the many parables of our sages of which 
we have an indistinct recollection, and which 
current circumstances often vividly revive in our 
mind, there is one, that, standing beside the bier 
of our lamented friend, came back with full force, 
and we saw how inconclusive was the application 
of the moral put forth by the closest reasoner, 
then and there tried by the severe test of reality. 
"When a man comes into the world," says the 
philosopher, "his hands are tightly closed, as if 
he meant to say thereby : 'The world is mine ; I 
will conquer it.' When he leaves the world his 
hands are relaxed and open, as if he meant to 
say : *Of things belonging to this world I have 
conquered for myself — nothing.' " Lost in con- 
templation, we gazed on the rapt multitude swal- 
lowing with eager ears the flowing words of the 
orator, and we asked of ourselves, if all we saw 
that day — if the funeral cortege of a thousand 
men, if the weeping orphans, the mourning re- 
latives, the troops of sorrowing friends, the bands 
of distressed associates, the aspect of regret 
visible on every countenance, the measured tread 
and the solemn chant, the voice of eulogy and 
the wail of lament — meant nothing — were nothing. 
If so, life was nothing; and controverting the 
treasured words of the preacher, the poor mor- 
tality which lay in our presence cold and inani- 
mate, beneath the velvet pall, was better than the 


active, sentient and robust that had assembled 
that day to perform the sad office of committing 
it to its fellow dust. But we saw that life had 
a purpose: that the days of the pilgrimage of the 
departed had not been like the patriarch of old — 
few and evil ; but his acts of duty, deeds of kind- 
ness and works of pious charity, had a purpose 
and a utility, which would endure long after the 
frail form which we had been accustomed to 
look up to had undergone that mystical transmu- 
tation, which is one of the great truths of crea- 
tion. Could we think otherwise; even the funeral 
of Mordecai M. Noah was, like his life, a lesson 
and a stimulant to all that came within the sphere 
of its activity. To his sons the name they inherit 
ought to be infinitely more valuable than a patri- 
mony of dirty acres ; for their father has be- 
queathed to them a patent of nobility, rich and 
rare ; priceless and unobtainable, except by a long 
exercise of unvaried goodness ; procured only by 
the rare union of mind and heart in one unceas- 
ing course of benevolence, sealed and guaranteed 
by that peerless ratification, the unbought loyalty 
of his fellow-citizens. Will they use it well? Will 
they adequately perform the duties it imposes on 
them? Society has an interest in the question, 
for M. M. Noah lived for the community; labored 
long and zealously to ameliorate the sufferings 
and better the condition of his species ; his 
memory, therefore, is the property of the people, 
and as in life they looked upon him with love, 
they now look upon it with reverence. The 


brightest monument his descendants can raise 
to perpetuate that reverence, is ever to keep be- 
fore them the bright example of the man whose 
memory thousands assembled to honor. 

Our readers will find an epitome of the public 
acts of Major Noah's life in the funeral oration, 
delivered by an eloquent divine. Of his career / 
as a politician, a representative of the nation at 
foreign courts, an advocate and a judge, our 
contemporaries, the daily press, have spoken in 
terms of unlimited approbation, and we place 
their observations at the conclusion of these re- 
marks, for they are indeed valuable, being the 
unbought, unsought tributes of associates and 
contemporaries desirous of recording their respect 
and regret for the loss of a useful member of 
society. Their perfect unanimity is estimable to 
us as Hebrews, for we recollect, and we ask all 
those who peruse this paper to bear in mind, that 
Mordecai M. Noah, although not a rigid cere- ) 
monialist, was in heart and in spirit an Israelite. 
National, judicial or municipal honors never in- 
duced him to forget that he was a son of the 
Covenant, and unlike the titled great of other 
lands, or many of the wealthy of this, he was 
proud on all occasions to say that he was of the 
lineage that had Abraham for its founder, Moses 
for its teacher, and the great Unity for its creed. 

By birth an American, by faith a Jew, Major 
Noah felt not and understood nothing of the 
artificial limits and distinctions which geography 
draws, or divers modes of worship create; with 


the hand ever open, his chanty was not restricted 
to mere acts which find their reward by parade in 
public journals, but his almony had vent at times 
and places when or where none living saw or 
knew, except the pleased recipient and the gener- 
ous giver. Overflowing with the milk of human 
kindness, he was ever full of projects for the 
happiness of his race — sanguine and enthusiastic, 
but wanting a knowledge of the intricate ways of 
the world, he failed to accomplish his meritorious 
designs; thus he became as it were a dreamer, 
who in the fulness of his fancy permitted his 
mind to wander and steal away, luxuriating over 
the images of beauty and pleasure which he saw 
in the ideals his generous soul produced, but the 
cold, stern world called for something more, 
hence his labors were often derided for im- 

For many years he has filled with honor to 
himself and satisfaction to its managers the 
Presidential chair of a valuable public charity, 
(the "Hebrew Benevolent Society," Meshebeth 
Nafesh) and his loss creates a vacuum which 
there will be much difficulty to satisfactorily fill 
up. His associates at that board manifested their 
remembrance of his valuable guidance by specially 
requesting Dr. Raphall to express at the brink of 
the grave their love for him as a man and a co- 
religionist, and their high appreciation of his 
noble conduct as a citizen and an officer of the 
State. Indefatigable in his avocation, Major Noah 
was a prompt and punctual attendant at all the 


meetings of that society, and he lost no oppor- 
tunity of pressing its claims upon public notice. 
One great object, for which he had for many 
years expressed a desire to found and originate, 
was a Hebrew Hospital : and the last public act 
of his life was taking the chair at a meeting of 
the delegates of the various charities, held a few 
weeks since for that purpose. Little did we then 
imagine that wt should thus shortly, within a 
brief month, be called upon to pen an obituary 
notice of the noble hearted man. It is true, 
he appeared far from well or strong on that 
occasion, but in reply to our inquiries as to how 
he felt, he ascribed his apparent indisposition to 
Rheumatism, which, to use his own language, "he 
hoped the genial warmth of summer would dis- 
pel." Alas ! the bright sun of opening spring 
only gave a lustre to the varnish of his hearse, 
and the coming summer of which he hopefully 
spoke, will give a green hue to the turf which 
binds his grave. 

Of his private life, all who knew him testify 
to its excellence and amiability. Our personal 
acquaintance with the deceased dates but a few 
years back — few, compared to the long series of 
years which he was fated to accomplish, but 
sufficiently many to enable us by association to 
learn the fervent zeal, the ardent devotion, the 
unbounded benevolence with which he listened 
to the voice of the distressed, sought to mitigate 
the hardships of the down fallen, and endeavored 
to assuage the calamities of the afflicted. 


As an editor, Major Noah was endowed with 
considerable practical talent and ever ready tact. 
A good judge of those matters has adroitly termed 
him "the most graceful paragraphist in the United 
States" ; he was truly so, for possessing the rare 
faculty of skimming the waves of discussion, and 
just hitting the subject between wind and water, 
he bore the reader invariably with him.. 

Of his social qualities, the young and the old, 
the strict conformist and the non orthodox, the 
Jew and the Gentile, spontaneously bear testimony 
to the charm which hovered around him. With 
innumerable virtues our revered friend may be 
said to have but few faults — yet, like all frail 
humanity, he had a weakness, probably amounting 
to a fault; even while penning the phrase, our 
mind suggests a palliative, and deems the infirmity 
we censure to be an excess of amiability. Un- 
learned in that most skilful section of the art of* 
diplomacy — duplicity. Unwilling to pain by a 
negative, yet destitute of the speciousness neces- 
sary to refuse with grace, the Major's political 
usefulness was destroyed by his ingenuousness 
rendering him a victim to crafty men ; and the 
success of his public career was marred by a /j 
positive incapacity to say No ; to give a denial to 
a suppliant, or firmly to reject an inconsistent 
proposition. However, nature made him so ; had 
his organization been otherwise, he would have 
been a richer — probably a wiser, but assuredly 
not a happier man. 













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